Haiti’s ambassador to the US says a “catastrophe of major proportions” is unfolding in his country this morning after a major 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit near the capital Port-Au-Prince.
The epicentre of the quake, which was initially reported off the coast, was located inland, 10km west of Carrefour, close to the capital, and was only 30km deep.
One witness says buildings have collapsed in Port-Au-Prince and people can be heard screaming. The witness says dead and injured are under the rubble.
Ambassador Raymond Alcide Joseph told CNN he was heartbroken as he had just spoken by telephone with a senior presidential aide who described scenes of chaos and devastation.
“He had to stop his car just about half an hour ago, and take to the streets, start walking, but he said houses were crumbling on the right side of the street and the left side of the street,” Mr Joseph said.
“He does not know whether he would reach his home, not knowing what he would find, because he had a bridge to cross to get there.”
An AFP correspondent said the ground shook for more than a minute.
Another AFP correspondent in Petionville said one three-storey building was toppled, and a tractor was already at the scene trying to dig out victims as people fled onto the streets in panic. The up-scale area is home to many foreign diplomats and members of a major United Nations mission to the country.
“Just experienced a MAJOR earthquake here in Port au Prince – walls were falling down. – we are ALL fine – pray for those in the slums,” Twitter user Troy Livesay wrote this morning.
Other reports say at least one hospital has collapsed.
The USA says landline and mobile phone communications have been knocked out by the earthquake.
The quake was followed by at least two weaker aftershocks.
A major earthquake of magnitude 7 or higher is capable of causing widespread and heavy damage. There was no immediate report of damage or casualties.
A tsunami watch was in effect for Haiti, Cuba, The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
“A destructive widespread tsunami threat does not exist based on historical earthquake and tsunami data,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.
“However, there is the possibility of a local tsunami that could affect coasts located usually no more than a 100 kilometres from the earthquake epicentre.”
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.
Found Richard Morse’s tweets on earthquake. Looks like his internet may not have stayed on. There have been no new updates recently.
were ok at the oloffson..internet is on !! no phones ! hope all are okay..alot of big building in PAP are down !
there is a tsunami alert ! everyone stay safe !! fires seem to also be burning in downtown PAP
Just about all the lights are out in Port au Prince.. people still screaming but the noise is dying as darkness sets.
lot’s of rumors about which buildings were toppled..The Castel Haiti behind the Oloffson is a pile of rubble..it was 8 stories high
Our guests are sitting out in the driveway.. no serious damage here at the Oloffson but many large buildings nearby have collapsed
people are praying in groups..others are looking for relatives..no phone service..no electricity
I’m told that parts of the Palace have collapsed..the UNIBANK here on Rue Capois has collapsed
people are bringing people by on stretchers they say it was a magnitude 7.0 earthquake..there are tsunami warnings here and in the Caribbean
two helicopters have flown over head an hour ago but nothing since then
Port au Prince is dark except for a few fires A huge hospital that was being built across from the Oloffson has collapsed
cars are starting to circulate..I see lights in the distance towards the wharf
the tsunami warnings are for Jamaica and Cuba
Notes end here