Port-au-Prince Epicentre of Massive Quake
by C. L. Cook
A massive earthquake struck Haiti shortly before 3pm eastern standard time today. The temblor has reportedly destroyed the presidential palace and a hospital in the capital.
The quake has been described as being between 7.0 and 7.5 Richter Scale, and centered at a depth of eight kilometers just 15 km west of Port-au-Prince.
A tsunami warning has been issued throughout the Caribbean.
Aftershocks, reportedly measuring 5.9 and 5.5 Richter have also hit the impoverished island.
Haiti's ambassador to the United States, Raymond Alcide Joseph says this is a catastrophe of "major proportions."
The ambassador related word from a senior aid to Haiti's president, who said the streets of the capital are impassable to auto traffic, adding he was forced out of his car, reduced to walking out of the wreckage as houses crumbled on both sides of the street.
From Washington, D.C., a statement from president Obama said his"thoughts and prayers" were with the Haitians, adding;
"We are closely monitoring the situation and we stand ready to assist the people of Haiti."
Mobile and phone lines are reported down, with night falling in the capital city.
U.S. Geological Survey spokesperson, Don Blakeman said he believed casualties from the quake would likely be "substantial."
[UPDATE I 6pm pacific standard time: Agence France Presse is reporting at this hour "hundreds" dead in Port-au-Prince. France is dispatching emergency relief. The U.N. mission headquarters in Haiti is reported destroyed, as are some foreign missions to the country. This is said to be the biggest earthquake experienced since at least 1964. - ed.]
[UPDATE II: 6:30 pst: BBC world television news is reporting via telephone with survivors in Haiti. One woman, identified as Michaella, says a market collapsed on many shoppers, including Americans, and "lots Americans." The reportedly destroyed U.N. mission is in the consular district of the city, and it is likely other foreign missions are too damaged. - ed.]