8 years ago731 views
Thousands are feared dead in a major earthquake that destroyed the presidential palace, schools, hospitals and hillside shanties in Haiti.
Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude quake was the most powerful earthquake in Haiti in more than a century.
Survivors were seen digging through rubble to reach family members, while others fought over dwindling gas supplies.
Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has said thousands or even over 100,000 people could be dead.
President Rene Preval called the damage "unimaginable." He described stepping over dead bodies and hearing the cries of those trapped in the collapsed Parliament building, where the senate president was among those pinned by debris.
Destruction in the capital was "massive and broad," and tens—if not hundreds—of thousands of homes were destroyed.
Sobbing and dazed people wandered the streets, and voices cried out from the rubble.
The quake's epicenter was only 10 miles from Port-au-Prince. About 4 million people live in the city and surrounding area. Many people have been sleeping outside on the ground, trying to keep away from walls. Aftershocks as powerful as 5.9 rattled the city throughout Tuesday night and into Wednesday.
The devastation crippled the government and the U.N. security mission that had kept order. There were no signs of organized rescue efforts, and people clawed at concrete chunks with their bare hands to try to free trapped loved ones.
Normal communications were cut off, roads were blocked by rubble and trees, electric power was interrupted, and water was in short supply.
As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is ill equipped to respond to such a disaster. It lacks heavy equipment to move debris and sufficient emergency personnel.