Major earthquake devastates Haiti, the Americas’ poorest nation

A major earthquake of 7.0 magnitude hit Haiti yesterday just ten miles outside of Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital. The quake centered on one of the most densely populated areas of one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, knocking out telephone communications, causing the collapse of buildings and homes, and potentially killing thousands of people and injuring tens of thousands more. The extent of the devastation is still unknown, but the country is in urgent need of immediate support to provide food, water, medical supplies, and shelter to countless victims. Longer-term recovery and rebuilding aid is also in imminent need.

A number of international aid efforts have already been mobilized. The US government, the US Coast Guard, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Haitian communities in the US have organized a range of support efforts. International aid agencies such as Oxfam, the International Red Cross, the British Red Cross, and Médecins Sans Frontières, among other agencies, have also announced their emergency assistance support. Haiti has recently been able to operationalize its airport to receive resources.

Boston-based Partners in Health has worked on health and development in Haiti for over two decades, and the organization has set up an emergency field hospital and has sent out various communications about the tumultuous event. Executive Director Ophelia Dahl writes, “In an urgent email from Port-au-Prince, Louise Ivers, our clinical director in Haiti, appealed for assistance from her colleagues in the Central Plateau: ‘Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS… Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us.’” You can help Partners in Health and earthquake victims by making a contribution, as explained on the PIH website.

The US State Department has set up the following number for US citizens seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747.

For the latest developments in Haiti, see the following news and information web links:
PIH Updates
US Department of State
BBC News
CNN International
Al Jazeera’s The Americas Blog
USA Today