News / Americas

Thousands Feared Dead After Haitian Earthquake

The 7.0 magnitude quake that struck Tuesday is most powerful to hit the Caribbean nation in 200 years. It may have killed tens of thousands of people.

A Haitian woman is helped from the rubble of a damaged building, 12 Jan 2010, in Port-au-Prince after a huge earthquake measuring 7.0 rocked the impoverished Caribbean nation
A Haitian woman is helped from the rubble of a damaged building, 12 Jan 2010, in Port-au-Prince after a huge earthquake measuring 7.0 rocked the impoverished Caribbean nation

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  • Sarah Williams Interview with Paul Coneally communications director for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Haiti earthquake relief effort

Stunned Haitians are digging through the rubble of Port-au-Prince, where thousands are feared dead after a massive earthquake destroyed much of the capital.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told U.S. television network CNN Wednesday he believes more than 100,000 people may be dead.

The 7.0 magnitude quake that struck Tuesday collapsed the presidential palace, monuments, and the city's largest hospital. Shoddily built schools and houses lay in ruins across the densely populated city, leaving homeless survivors wandering the streets.

Working hospitals are overflowing, and bloody bodies are lining the roadways. The International Red Cross says up to 3 million people have been affected.

Bodies were pulled from the collapsed United Nations headquarters in Port-au-Prince. More than 100 U.N. personnel are missing, including the mission chief, Hedi Annabi.

Brazil's army says 11 of its peacekeepers were killed. Jordan is reporting three deaths. The Roman Catholic archbishop of Port-Au-Prince, Monsignor Serge Miot, also is reported dead.

The Haitian ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, is appealing to Washington to send a hospital ship. The U.S. and other countries have pledged to support the devastated nation.

Of the 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti, the 3,000 based in Port-au-Prince are clearing roads to assist search and rescue teams.

The work is difficult, however, as rubble is everywhere and communication and power lines are out across the city and elsewhere. A Haitian woman, Nadeje Pamphile, who lives 19 kilometers east of Port-au-Prince told VOA her brother and nephew are trapped under rubble. She said late Tuesday their voices could be heard but nobody could reach them.

The Red Cross says there is an urgent need for search and rescue volunteers as well as field hospitals, water purification and telecommunications.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Development efforts have suffered severe setbacks because of political violence, lawlessness, corruption and natural disasters.  

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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