Haiti earthquake claims hundreds of lives

January 13th, 2010 - 12:22 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama Melbourne, Jan.13 (ANI): Hundreds of people, including two Australians, are feared dead after the 7.0 magnitude quake struck the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.

Three strong aftershocks followed the quake, which has flattened numerous buildings in the vicinity, news.com.au reports.

A spokeswoman of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said: “We know of two Australians who are in Haiti and we’re urgently trying to contact them.”

Australia’s nearest high commission, based in Trinidad and Tobago, was also trying to determine whether any other Australians have been affected, she said, adding that Australia is ready to respond to any requests for humanitarian assistance from the Haitian authorities.

Buildings in the capital Port-au-Prince have collapsed, and there are reports of people screaming for help and bodies lying in the rubble.

A large number of UN staffers are unaccounted for after the quake caused serious damage to their headquarters, a senior UN official said.

The Inter-American Development Bank announced an immediate emergency aid donation of 200,000 dollars to Haiti in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake.

France is preparing to urgently dispatch aid, while the American Jewish World Service also announced it is collecting donations in response to the massive earthquake.

The country’s ambassador to the US, Raymond Alcide Joseph, told CNN television: “I think it’s really a catastrophe of major proportions.”

The ambassador said he was heart broken as he had just spoken by telephone with a senior presidential aide who described scenes of chaos and devastation.

“The presidential palace, the finance ministry, the ministry of public works, the ministry of communication and culture were all affected by the quake,” a reporter said, adding that the parliament building and a cathedral in the capital were also crumbling.

US President Barack Obama said the United States was ready to help.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by this earthquake. We are closely monitoring the situation and we stand ready to assist the people of Haiti,” he said.

UNICEF has launched an urgent appeal for aid to supply emergency medical supplies, safe drinking water and temporary shelters. (ANI)

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