Severe earthquake destroys Haitian capital

A major earthquake has shook Haiti just ten miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince, the capital of impoverished Haiti, on Tuesday. According to the Red Cross, more than three million people have been affected and over 600,000 reportedly injured.

In his interview in the Miami Herald newspaper, the country's president, Rene Préval, described the scene in the capital as “unimaginable”, saying that the island's infrastructure lies in ruins.

"Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,'' he said. "There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them."

According to Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, the death toll from the quake could reach well over 100,000.

The 7.0 earthquake, the worst in the region in the past 200 years, struck in late afternoon. It damaged communications and cut off electricity. Most of the island's infrastructure has been destroyed, significantly hampering relief efforts, and authorities have not been able to determine the number of casualties yet.

The quake also destroyed the Presidential Palace, the Haiti-based UN headquarters, and the capital’s hospital.

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2010 Haiti earthquake

The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake centred approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, which struck at 16:53:09 local time (21:53:09 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010. The earthquake occurred at a depth of 13 kilometres (8.1 mi). The United States Geological Survey recorded a series of aftershocks, fourteen of them between magnitudes 5.0 and 5.9. The International Red Cross has stated that as many as 3 million people have been affected by the quake, with as many as 100,000 deaths likely, according to the prime minister.

Most of Port-au-Prince's major landmarks were significantly damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, including the Presidential Palace (though the President survived), the National Assembly building, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, and the main jail. All hospitals were destroyed or so badly damaged that they have been abandoned. The United Nations reported that headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), located in the capital, collapsed and that a large number of UN personnel were unaccounted for. The Mission's Chief, Hédi Annabi, was confirmed dead on 13 January by President René Préval.

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