Devastating earthquake plunges Haiti into tragedy

SANTO DOMINGO.—The devastating earthquake that shook Haiti has once again plunged this impoverished nation into tragedy as we go to press. The magnitude of the disaster is as yet unknown to the international community due to the collapse of communications.

The bits of news received in the Dominican capital are increasingly alarming, and refer to the destruction of a huge part of the infrastructure in the capital of Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, PL reports.

The first photographs published in the Dominican press showed part of the disaster’s impact, with images of numerous collapsed buildings, including the emblematic National Palace, the seat of government. The buildings housing Parliament and the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince also suffered considerable damage.

Haitian diplomatic sources affirmed that President René Preval is alive, but no further details about his situation are known.

The Haitipal television channel in Port-au-Prince reported that the Ministries of Finance, Labor, Communication and Culture were also seriously damaged.

The source reported that the hospital in the residential area of Petion Villa outside the capital crumbled, but no further information about injuries was known.

The United Nations issued a press release saying that its facilities in Port-au-Prince suffered serious damage and several of its workers are missing.

As this article was being written, information on deaths and injuries was not available, but humanitarian sources believe that these are high.

In the Dominican Republic, the Seismological Institute of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo said that the earthquake was strongly felt in several parts of the nation, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

The institute’s director, Eugenio Polanco, said that the earthquake was the worst that the country had experienced since 1946, which measured 8.1 degrees on the Richter scale.

The director of the Emergency Operations Center, General Juan Manuel Méndez, announced that “Plan Lightning” had been implemented, which included the mobilization of the armed forces to help the population and ensure safety and order.

According to the U.S. Geological Institute, the earthquake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale and occurred at 16:53 hours local (21:53 UTC).

Its epicenter was located 15 kilometers southwest of Port-au-Prince, at 18.45 degrees latitude north and 75.44 degrees west, with a depth of 10 kilometers, according to that source.

The institute reported that two aftershocks were felt, varying in intensity from 5.0 to 4.5 degrees on the Richter scale.

Meanwhile, several countries in the region have announced the start of preparations to send aid, including Venezuela, Nicaragua, Argentina and the United States.

Translated by Granma International

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