The 2010 Haiti earthquake had a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude. The epicenter of the earthquake was near the town of Léogane (+/- 25 km West of the country’s capital city Port-au-Prince). The earthquake occured at 16:53 in the afternoon at a depth of 13 km. The earthquake was followed by 33 aftershocks (of which 14 had a magnitude of 5.0 – 5.9). The earthquake caused major damage to Port-au-Prince. Most major landmarks were significantly damaged or destroyed, including the Presidential Palace, National Assembly building, Port-au-Prince cathedral and the main jail. To make matters worse, most hospitals in the area were destroyed. It’s estimated that the earthquake affected roughly 3 million people. The International Red Cross first estimated the deathtoll to be between 45,000 and 50,000 people. However, the Haitian Interior Ministry believes that the deathtoll could be as high as 200,000. Earlier the Haitian Prime Minister announced that over 70,000 bodies were buried in mass graves after the disaster.
Haiti is one of the world’s poorest countries. Appeals for humanitarian aid were issued by the International Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the United Nations and the country’s president René Préval. Ambassador Joseph and his nephew, singer Wyclef Jean, who was called by Préval to become a “roving ambassador” for Haiti have also pleaded for donations. Hiati’s neighbour, the Dominican Republic was the first country to give aid to the country easing tensions that have existed between the 2 countries since the 19th century in the process. Other nations from farther afield also sent personnel, medicines, materiel, and other aid to Haiti. US President Barack H. Obama has pledged that the people of Haiti “will not be forgotten”. The US has promised $100 million of aid to the country. US troops have also been deployed to help with rescue, relief and aid efforts.
Earlier today, on the 20th of January 2010, another aftershock measuring 6.1 hit the island of Haiti