A 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti without warning like a thief in the night earlier this afternoon around 5 pm. Reports are sketchy, for no one knows for sure of how many people who may have perished beneath the rubble. The largest ever recorded in the region’s history, an earthquake of this magnitude had the potential to inflict damages of catastrophic proportion. According to US Geological Survey, the epicenter was inland about 10 miles southwest from Port-au-Prince. According to CNN, more than 15 aftershocks have been registered with one of them was registered at 5.9. That was another big earthquake all by itself. The monster earthquake sent panic-stricken people screaming into the streets. Haiti is the least equipped country to observe such a blow. Clouds of dust and smoke from falling buildings rose into the sky and could be seen miles away.
According to Radio Metropole, which quoted Agence France Presse, Downtown Port-au-Prince has been wiped out. Lan Rogers of the charity Save the Children, who was speaking to CNN from Port-au-Prince, said he could hear cries of anguish and mourning rising up from around the city in the darkness. This is definitely going to be Haiti’s darkest night in its history. As the sun finally melted away in the horizon, everyone had to clench their teeth and brace for the horror pictures as they will be displayed all over the world when the sun goes up tomorrow morning.
Already, chilling reports out of the country have claimed that part of the national Palace has collapsed, the building that houses the ministry of commerce (this was confirmed by Danielle of CNN who is Haitian), the Haitian Parliament building, Hotel Montana where many foreigners stay, Munista headquarters (largely destroyed). The city’s cathedral—a historic building—has also collapsed. Haiti’s State Telephone company building was also damaged, along with DGI (Direction Générale des Impots) building Homes and buildings built on hillsides had come crashing down along with earth and rubble. “All the roads currently are blocked,” according to Lan Rogers.
The shock was also felt as far away as Cap Haitien, the country’s second largest city. “People were screaming ‘Jesus, Jesus’ and running in all directions,” said Guy Delva said. Delva, who works for Reuters News Agency, claims to have seen “people under the rubble, and people killed.” He goes on to say “people were screaming, houses started collapsing … it’s total chaos.”
Haitian ambassador to Washington, Ray Joseph, went on CNN to confirm that Haitian president Rene Preval was safe. He was reported not being at the Palace at the time the earthquake struck, and that he was at his private home in Canape Vert, a wealthy neighborhood of the city. He said he was able to speak to Fritz Longchamps, Preval’s Secretary of State, who confirmed that the hillsides broke open and sent huge mudslides down and buried tons of shantytowns under the debris. As darkness fell amid scenes of chaos and anguished cries from victims, residents desperately tried to dig out survivors or searched for missing relatives in debris-strewn streets.
Wiclef Jean, popular rap star and Edwige Danticat, renowned novelist, went on CNN to launch a plea for help. Wiclef has directly challenged the Haitian Diaspora—numbered about 4 millions—to live up to their historical task to land a hand to their country now on its knees. He left a number 501501 to text Yele, Wiclef humanitarian organization, to make a donation. However, there is a charge of $5 per message. There is also an other number (888-407-4747) for American in the US who have relatives in Haiti and want to know about their safety.
The news has sent shockwaves to Haitian communities all over the globe. From Paris to Boston, many have sent messages to CSMS Magazine wanting to know the latest on the situation on the ground in Haiti. Millions of Haitians tonight have plunged into total consternation. It’s inconceivable to believe a country such as Haiti, underdeveloped, densely populated and heartbreakingly poor, can suffer so much. It is just tragedy upon tragedy. And now this, the largest quake in recorded history. The worst place on earth one can imagine such humongous quake could push its way. It feels as if all the previous calamities were not enough, and Mother Nature had to intervene one more time to finish the people of Haiti. If the National Palace, one of the country’s best structured buildings has collapsed, there is no sense in asking for the vast majority of unsafe mud huts and rickety houses that house millions of people. Tomorrow will certainly be a tough day to go through. One wonders, when will this everlasting suffering end?