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Haiti - earthquake

Massive earthquake strikes Haiti; death toll estimates "in hundreds"

Article published on the 2010-01-13 Latest update 2010-01-13 12:36 TU

A man trapped under the rubble calls for help at Port-au-Prince University(Credit: Reuters)

A man trapped under the rubble calls for help at Port-au-Prince University
(Credit: Reuters)

A massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti late Tuesday, toppling buildings in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and killing hundreds, according to an estimate a local doctor told news agency AFP. The centre of Port-au-Prince has been destroyed, according to eyewitnesses, and the aftershocks are forcing survivors to seek refuge on the streets.

The damage is widespread throughout the capital of two million people, and includes the shantytowns as well as the affluent suburbs where aid workers and government officials live.

The presidential palace has been damaged, and schools, hospitals and hotels were also leveled. The Hotel Montana, a place popular with tourists, has collapsed and 200 people are missing, according to French Minister for Cooperation Alain Joyandet. He said there were 300 people inside and only 100 got out.

The United Nations mission headquarters collapsed and Brazilian troops from the UN peacekeeping department were trying frantically to get to the people trapped inside.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that the head of the UN Mission to Haiti, Hedi Annabi, and "all those around him" have been killed in the quake.

Reports indicate that eight Chinese peacekeepers were buried in the rubble and 10 others are missing. The UN announced that three Jordanian peacekeepers were killed and 21 wounded, and 4 Brazilian peacekeepers were also killed.

The infrastructure throughout the country has been severly damaged, as emergency vehicles cannot get through to hospitals due to the all the debris blocking the roads. A more accurate body count is not available due to broken telephone lines.

Residents are terrified as the 27 aftershocks that have already hit the capitol are forcing them to sleep in the open, for fear that more buildings may topple, burying them alive. 

Joyandet said that France was sending two planes with rescuers and humanitarian workers Wednesday-- one from Fort-de-France, Martinique, and another from Marseille, from the south of France.