Wednesday 13 January 2010
A powerful earthquake of 7.0 magnitude has today struck southern Haiti, rocking the capital Port-au-Prince and sparking a tsunami alert for neighbouring states.
The extent of the damage is not currently known, however, there have been reports that a hospital and other buildings have collapsed in the capital. Haiti’s envoy to the United States has said in media reports that the earthquake could be a “catastrophe of major proportions”.
A tsunami warning was issued for Haiti, the neighbouring Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas.
Frank Williams, National Director for World Vision Haiti, said the quake left people "pretty much screaming" all around Port-au-Prince. He said the office building shook for about 35 seconds, "and portions of things on the building fell off."
"None of our staff were injured, but lots of walls are falling down," Williams said. "Many of our staff have tried to leave, but were unsuccessful because the walls from buildings and private residences are falling into the streets, so that it has pretty much blocked significantly most of the traffic."
The quake was centered about 10 kilometers underground, and was followed by two severe aftershocks.
"There is a kind of wail as people are very frightened by it," Williams said of the aftershocks. "But most people are out in the streets and just kind of looking up."
Read latest updates about World Vision’s response and children sponsored by Australians here. You can donate to the Haiti earthquake appeal here.