Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thousands May Be Dead In Haiti

haiti_earthquake Terrible:

Early [yesterday] evening, a massive earthquake rocked Haiti, the United States' island neighbor to the south and, by far, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The earthquake measured a 7.0 on the Richter scale and occurred close to the densely populated capital of Port-au-Prince. Initial reports indicate massive building damage, including to hospitals and water and electricity plants. Casualties are expected to number in the thousands. The United States and other nations have started to deploy emergency aid; U.N. envoys Paul Farmer and former president Bill Clinton are rallying aid as well.

Update: Mark Goldberg at U.N. Dispatch flags a worrying story. The earthquake has reportedly destroyed the U.N. peacekeeping mission's headquarters in Haiti; the U.N. keeps around 7000 troops in the country. Mark worries about the U.N. peacekeepers' capacity to act as first responders. The quake has also destroyed at least part of the country's presidential palace.

Also: the L.A. Times has a good list of Twitter users to follow in Haiti. Electricity, landline, and cell phone service appears to be out in much of the country.

More on this here and here. Wikipedia has a page up with more details on the earthquake. Reuters has ongoing coverage. Here are Twitter updates from people in affected regions.

Haiti was the first developing country I ever visited and ties with rural India for the poorest living conditions I have ever seen. With many poorly constructed buildings throughout the country, poor infrastructure, and a lack of emergency response services -- I cannot imagine how bad things must be in Haiti right now.

Thankfully, no one I know was hurt, but the compound I stayed in (10 miles from the epicenter) had five buildings destroyed by the quake. Here is a video from Tim De Tellis, one of the guys I traveled with while there, with a message from Haiti:

Megan McArdle says it well:

The tragedy seems to be of proportions unimaginable to people living in a rich society replete with earthquake codes. Please give something if you can spare it.

AidWatch suggests these ideas for where to give…

… and these sources for more information:

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