Devastating Earthquake Hits Capital Of Haiti

01.13.10 | FL News Team

Aftershocks have been rocking Haiti's capital as chaos rules the streets this morning. Port-au-Prince has had aftershocks up to magnitude five-point-nine during the night and into today. Reports of casualties are only trickling out in the stricken city in the aftermath of a seven-point-oh earthquake yesterday. Screaming people -- perhaps thousands of them -- are feared trapped under rubble. Both high-rise and low-rise buildings -- from the presidential palace to a five-story UN building, hotels, hospitals, stores and homes -- shuddered and fell in yesterday's magnitude seven-point-zero shaker. Communications and electricity are cut off and it's not known how many people have been injured or killed.

 Among the buildings destroyed or badly damaged are the offices of the United Nations and those of the World Bank. The State Department reports the American Embassy escaped major damage. The department is advising Americans seeking information on loved ones in Haiti to call 1-888-407-4747. Meanwhile, pledges of aid are rolling in from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development. That agency is sending teams of 72 people, six rescue dogs and 48 tons of rescue equipment to help look for survivors of the tragedy.

 President Obama said the U.S. is "ready to assist the people of Haiti." In a White House statement, Obama added his thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by the tragedy. Speaking in Honolulu, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised immediate U.S. aid. Haiti is considered the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.