Major Earthquake in Haiti, Magnitude 7.0


haitiUpdated: A major earthquake struck just off the coast of Haiti late this afternoon, reportedly causing extensive damage in the capital of Port-au-Prince. The center of the earthquake was 700 miles from¬†Miami. The quake had a magnitude of 7.0 according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and was centered just 10 miles from Port-au-Prince. Its center’s location was also relatively shallow, less than 10 miles below ground, raising the risk of damage.Reports said a hospital in nearby Petionville had collapsed, and a videographer for The Associated Press said he could hear people screaming for help.

A Reuters reporter, quoting workers for a U.S. charity, Food for the Poor, said there were more houses destroyed than standing in Delmas Road, a major thoroughfare in Port-au-Prince. An employee of Food for the Poor said a five-story building had collapsed.

There were other reports of damage, but they could not be immediately confirmed.

“I couldn’t even stand up. that’s how bad it was,” said Valerie Moliere, a 15-year-old resident of Port-au-Prince, reached by ABC News . “There’s a lot of people in the street everywhere. Some are wounded.”

“I just heard that right next to my neighborhood there’s this pharmacy and this school that broke down and many people died,” she said.

“I don’t know how powerful it was. But from what I felt it was very powerful,” said Carole Bastin, another resident reached by ABC News. “And it lasted like, it was 7.3 and it lasted I don’t know maybe, it was quite long because I could not walk, I was trying to leave the house, the building, I could not because everything was shaking around me. All the file cabinets were opening and all the things falling apart.”

The earthquake was felt by people in Jamaica; Quantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

The original earthquake was quickly followed by two strong aftershocks. The USGS said they had initial magnitudes of 5.9 and 5.5, and more were likely.

“We’ve seen this with almost all large, shallow earthquakes,” said Don Blakeman of the National Earthquake Information Center in a telephone interview with ABC News. “We’re going to have an aftershock series, and as time passes, the size of the aftershocks and the frequency will decrease.”

White House and State Department Offer Help

The White House issued a statement tonight from President Obama: “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.”

U.S. military and humanitarian services said they were ready to offer help, but officials said privately that they had to wait for a formal request from the Haitian government.

“We are standing by to help in any way we can,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

¬†“Everybody is just totally, totally freaked out and shaken,” said Henry Bahn, a visiting official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “The sky is just gray with dust.”

Bahn said he was walking to his hotel room when the ground began to shake.

“I just held on and bounced across the wall,” he said. “I just hear a tremendous amount of noise and shouting and screaming in the distance.”

A tsunami watch was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, but it was canceled after several hours.

“There could have been destructive tsunami waves near the earthquake epicenter but there is not a threat to coastal areas further away,” said an advisory from the warning center.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with a population estimated at 9.8 million people, according to the World Bank.

{ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.}

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. What a measurable life now there! I would like to apply to the people who have a ability to help them please help. Who have no ability to help at least pray for them.