Haiti earthquake: Live updates
You can find our most recent blog coverage here.
Quick links: Twitter feeds about Haiti's earthquake; updating list of ways to help relief efforts; e-mail tips to Liz Heron or Garance Franke-Ruta; submit photos from Haiti. For complete coverage of the crisis in Haiti, click here.
12:07 a.m. Google Earth releases post-quake photos
The Google Crisis Response Team has released a Google Earth imagery layer of Haiti post-quake.
"We've worked closely with GeoEye throughout the afternoon to make their most recent satellite imagery of Haiti, taken at approximately 10:27am EST [Wednesday], available as a KML overlay for Google Earth," the team writes, noting, "As you'll see, the imagery shows a powerful glimpse into the destruction in Haiti." Click here for before and after Google Earth images of the presidential palace and an area of Port-au-Prince, and to download the imagery layer.
11:33 p.m. Video of the quake happening emerges
"The CBS News Investigative Unit has acquired video of buildings collapsing in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during the country's worst earthquake since 1770. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.0 and dozens of aftershocks. "
8:45 p.m.: Haitian resort town also devastated by quake
While Port-au-Prince has received the lion's share of attention after Tuesday's earthquake, no less hard-hit is the resort town of Jacmel, whose 19th-century architecture was the major influence for New Orleans, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.
"It is a complete devastation here. Personally, I am lucky to be alive," said Emmet Murphy, head of the Haitian office of the US non-governmental organization ADCI/VOCA.
Jacmel, a port town with a population of about 40,000, is Haiti's most popular tourist destination, with beautiful beaches and much historical significance. The town was founded in 1698 and became a hub for wealthy coffee merchants in the 19th century. The entrepreneurs' mansions, with their balconies and columns, influenced the style traditionally associated with New Orleans.
Jacmel is home to flourishing international film and music festivals. On Monday, Choice Hotels announced it would open in Jacmel a 32-room Comfort Inn, planned to be the first chain hotel in Haiti in more than a decade, as well as a more upscale property in nearby Belle Rive.
8:10 p.m.: Most of novelist Danticat's family missing after quake
Novelist Edwidge Danticat, one of the world's most famous Haitian writers, is still trying to get in touch with most of her family in Port-au-Prince, she told National Public Radio.
Danticat, 40, who was born in Haiti and moved to Brooklyn when she was 12, has written several books about her home country and visits regularly. She told NPR that she spoke to her mother-in-law, who lives in a suburb of Port-au-Prince, on Wednesday morning, but that she has not made contact with her other family members. She spent Wednesday in Miami, where she lives, meeting with other Haitians to grieve and discuss plans for the future. Danticat has long been a vocal advocate for aid efforts in Haiti.
Last September, Danticat was named a winner of a MacArthur Foundation "genius award." She is currently editing a book of short stories about Haiti called "Haiti Noir," which is scheduled to be released next January.
7:35 p.m.: Va. community college students, staff reported safe
A group of two students and two staff members who traveled to Haiti from Blue Ridge Community College, in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, are safe after the earthquake, the school announced.
The students and staff members from the college, in Weyers Cave, Va., were working on a service project outside of Port-au-Prince with the Missouri-based nonprofit group SIFE, according to Blue Ridge president John A. Downey. Family members and administrators from the college were unable to get in touch with the group until late Wednesday afternoon, when an American volunteer from another group e-mailed her organization to say she was with the Blue Ridge representatives and that all are safe.
7:00 p.m.: FCC allows broadcasters to raise money for hurricane relief
Federal regulators said Wednesday that they would waive a rule that prohibits public television and radio stations from on-air fundraising, freeing the stations to raise money for Haitian earthquake relief.
The rule prohibits non-commercial stations from using their airwaves to raise funds for any cause other than pledge drives for the stations themselves. But the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses TV stations, said it would grant waivers for Haitian fund drives.
It did the same after Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina and the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Commercial stations and cable networks don't need the federal government's permission to air programs appealing for contributions.
6:37 p.m.: 10 students from Fla. college group missing
Two students from a Florida college group staying in Haiti have arrived safely at the American embassy in Port-au-Prince, but 10 classmates and two faculty members remain missing, the university said Wednesday evening.
The group from Lynn University, in Boca Raton, was staying at Hotel Montana, a luxury resort in Port-au-Prince that collapsed in the earthquake. The students were working with an international aid group, Food for the Poor, during their winter break from classes, a spokesman for the university said.
Lynn administrators are posting updates on the university web site at www.lynn.edu/alert.
6:32 p.m.: Body of archbishop is recovered
Msgr. Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of the Diocese of Port-au-Prince, was found dead Wednesday, a fellow priest told CNN. Miot's body was pulled from the rubble of the archdiocese office, the network reported. He was 63.
The apostolic nuncio in Haiti, Msgr. Bernardito Auza, told Fox News that the Port-au-Prince cathedral and every major church and seminary was flattened by the earthquake and that hundreds of priests and seminarians are unaccounted for.
6:25 p.m.: Md. church with ties to Haiti plans Mass
St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Derwood, Md., will hold a special Mass at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to pray for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
The church has a special connection to Haiti, having been "twinned" with St. Paul Parish in Leon, Haiti for the past 20 years, according to Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington. St. Francis is helping fund construction of a new high school in the town and pays for 100 students' tuition. Three mission groups from the church are scheduled to travel to Haiti next month, Gibbs said.
Fourteen parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington are twinned with churches in Haiti.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish is located at 6701 Muncaster Mill Road in Derwood.
6:15 p.m.: Charitable giving for crisis reaching record totals
Organizations raising money for Haitian relief efforts online say that the early response is reaching record-breaking totals.
A spokesman for Convio, which provides software to nonprofit groups, told the Chronicle of Philanthropy that the company will process more than $20 million in donations in the 24 hours after the earthquake, a higher total than on Dec. 31, the highest-grossing day of last year. Convio provides software to some of the biggest international aid groups, including UNICEF, World Vision, the American Red Cross and Catholic Charities.
By Wednesday afternoon, the American Red Cross had raised more than $1 million through its web site, plus another $713,000 through its mobile giving campaign, the Chronicle reported. That campaign -- one of several set up in the wake of the earthquake -- allows cell phone users to donate $10 by texting "HAITI" to the number 90999.
The actor Ben Stiller, who runs a nonprofit supporting a school in Port-au-Prince, has redirected the group's funds to earthquake relief efforts, he announced on his web site.
5:50 p.m. Partners in Health to set up field hospitals
Partners in Health, the health care organization founded by physician Paul Farmer in Haiti and chronicled in the book "Mountains Beyond Mountains," has mobilized staff from its Boston headquarters, as well as its Haiti facilities, to treat victims in Port-au-Prince.
The group has set up a supply chain through the Dominican Republic to create field hospitals in Port-au-Prince to "triage patients, provide emergency care, and send those who need surgery or more complex treatment to our functioning hospitals and surgical facilities," according to its web site. Partners in Health's medical director is on her way to Haiti to oversee the group's 120 doctors and 500 nurses and nursing assistants. The group's main facility in Haiti, a 104-bed hospital in the central part of the country, was unharmed and is treating a steady stream of patients coming from Port-au-Prince, a statement from Partners in Health said.
The group has set up a web site to take donations for its relief efforts in Haiti.
5:46 p.m. District's chaplain for Haitian community missing
The Archdiocese of Washington is working to coordinate donations to help relief efforts in Haiti as well as special prayer services for Haitians in the Washington region, but staff members are forced to do it without their main liason to the Haitian American community.
Arsene Jasmin, a priest from Port-au-Prince on loan to the Archdiocese of Washington, serves as the chaplain to the Haitian community in Washington, D.C. Jasmin traveled to Haiti on Monday on retreat and has not been heard from since the earthquake, according to Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese.
"The person we turn to is himself missing," Gibbs said. "He's here to help people express in their own culture [and] language."
There are about 20,000 Haitians in the Washington region, about 80 percent of whom are Catholic, Gibbs said. Three Catholic churches in the region -- Sacred Heart in Columbia Heights, Our Lady of Sorrows in Takoma Park and St. Camillus in Silver Spring -- hold some services in French Creole for Haitian-Americans.
Gibbs said St. Camillus will hold a vigil this weekend and that all parishes will take a second collection for relief efforts on Sunday. In Jasmin's absence, Steve Carter, the priest at Sacred Heart, is coordinating many of the archdiocese's efforts.
5:36 p.m. Haitian diplomat predicts death toll of 100,000
As many as 100,000 may have died in the earthquake in Haiti, the country's ambassador to the Organization of American States said Wednesday during a briefing in Washington.
"The number I had today is from the prime minister," said Ambassador Duly Brutus during a briefing organized by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). But Brutus added that he hopes that the number of deaths will be far less--perhaps no more than 30,000.
"I want to be optimistic. I refuse to accept that we have more than 30,000 people who died in Haiti. It's my dream -- my wish for my country. But other people believe we have more people who died in Haiti during the earthquake. Some people think we have more than 100,000. Now, we don't know how many people died from this earthquake. We don't know. We need to wait," he said
PAHO, which is part of the World Health Organization, had dispatched an international team of experts from Panama to Haiti to assist in the management of mass casualties, the delivery of emergency medical care, and the disposal of bodies, an official said.
"This is the strongest earthquake ever reported in Haiti," said Jon K. Andrus, PAHO's deputy director. "It is a country of extreme poverty and vulnerability."
"We fear the impact of this earthquake will be particularly devastating due to the vulnerability of Haiti's people," Andrus said.
Contrary to common belief, large numbers of dead bodies do not pose an immediate health threat to survivors, Andrus noted, urging against mass burials.
"Misplaced fears about dead bodies often lead to mass burials, which are unnecessary," he said.
He also urged people who want to make donations to send money instead of food and clothing.
Brazil has sent three jets carrying 21 tons of equipment; Canada, Guana and other countries have offered money; and France is sending planes with equipment and personnel and Spain has sent planes with surgical teams, he said.
Search and rescue for survivors, medical care for the injured, the provision of clean water and food and the control of communicable diseases will be the most immediate priorities, Andrus said.
"These will be the major concern for the upcoming days," Andrus said.
5:32 p.m. Official worry port may be too damaged for relief efforts
As U.S. agencies lined up to help the relief effort, officials sounded a note of concern, saying they are deeply worried about whether the country's infrastructure can handle the influx of help that will soon begin arriving. Haiti's airport and seaport both sustained substantial damage in the earthquake.
"If the port is severely damaged, that makes it very, very difficult" to get relief supplies in, said U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. James A. "Jim" Watson IV, director of Atlantic area operations.
Coast Guard operations were focused on establishing some sort of broad sea-lift capacity at Port-au-Prince's heavily damaged seaport.
-- Michael D. Shear and Spencer S. Hsu
5:28 p.m. Gaspard promises rapid and aggressive response
White House political director Patrick Gaspard told non-governmental organizations on a conference call Wednesday that the White House and the rest of the American government were moving "rapidly and aggressively" to address the crisis in Haiti.
A Haitian America, Gaspard made clear that the situation there is deeply personal to him.
"As a Haitian American who is himself struggling to contact friends and loved ones, I can well appreciate the profound sadness we're all feeling at the this horrific moment," he told those on the call, which was sponsored by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.
He urged Haitian Americans to think not only in terms of material support for their ancestral land but to think about the sweeping emotional toll that the earthquake will take on their families and friends. "This is a time when we all have to serve as grief counselors," he said.
Gaspard said that after several months of review and deliberation, the Obama administration had been prepared to announce a new policy framework for the country. That will, of course, have to be revisited, but he said no one should expect Haiti to fall off the administration's radar.
"Irrespective of what's on CNN, Haiti has been in the hearts and minds of the president and the secretary of of state and the special envoy to the Haiti, Bill Clinton," Gaspard said. "On this issue, we're not following the headlines and Haiti will continue to be central to our work going forward."
Read the rest of the post by Henri Cauvin and Theola Labbé-DeBose at the 44: Politics and Policy blog.
5:18 p.m. Americans seek loved ones
Friends and family members of Americans in Haiti took to the airwaves Wednesday to seek help finding their loved ones.
About 45,000 American citizens live in Haiti, according to the State Department.
Skip Conover of Lawrenceville, N.J., told CNN that 21 people from his church and two others nearby were scheduled to arrive in Port-au-Prince about three hours before the earthquake struck. Nobody has heard from the members of the group, Conover said.
"Our fingers are crossed that if there were no holdups in customs and no stopgaps, the team should have been up the mountains and reached the village of Thoman before the quake happened," he told the network.
Haiti is a popular location for church group missions because of the crippling poverty and because the country's government is generally welcoming to religious aid workers.
Americans who have been unable to contact family members in Haiti are instructed to call a State Department hotline at 1-888-407-4747.
5:16 p.m. Twitter, Facebook play big role in helping Haiti
Charitable organizations say an unprecedented number of people have turned to social media, including Twitter and Facebook to give money for disaster relief efforts following the Haiti earthquake. (Jan. 13, Associated Press)
4:04 p.m.: U.S. military dispatches aircraft carrier, other assets
Ann Scott Tyson has more details about U.S. military response to the quake aftermath:
The U.S. military is urgently dispatching a Navy aircraft carrier and large-deck amphibious ship, as well as military transport aircraft and assessment teams, to Haiti to assist with the earthquake relief effort, a senior U.S. military official said Wednesday.
Gen. Douglas Fraser said U.S. military assessment teams arriving in Haiti Wednesday and Thursday aboard C-130 transport aircraft would include a headquarters of about 25 people, as well as about a dozen experts including engineers and medical professionals. The military will focus on establishing better communications and a command-and-control capability in order to assist the U.S. Agency for International Development and other government entities in the relief effort.
The military teams will also work on reestablishing the operations of the Port-au-Prince airport, where the runway is intact but the control tower has lost communications.
Ed O'Keefe has more on U.S. government response to the quake.
3:52 p.m.: Haiti groups crop up on Facebook
People flocked onto Facebook Wednesday, some promising their prayers and others seeking information on loved ones' whereabouts after the earthquake in Haiti.
The Facebook group "EARTHQUAKE HAITI" boasted 33,394 members as of about 3:10 p.m. Wednesday, and another group by the same name had 5,192 members by the same time, with both groups' members lists growing quickly. Another, smaller group, "Haiti earthquake!!" had about 766 members.
One poster on "EARTHQUAKE HAITI" sought updates about his or her grandfather, who apparently had been pulled out from a collapsed house and was in serious condition. Another poster asked for information about the whereabouts of a coworker who the poster said was believed to be in Port-au-Prince at the time of the quake.
On the smaller of the two "EARTHQUAKE HAITI" groups, one person reported that text messages apparently were getting through better than voice calls, and encouraged people seeking to contact people in Haiti to try getting in touch with them via texting.
It was the same story on other Haiti-themed Facebook groups, "Haiti Needs Us, And We Need Haiti," which had about 10,754 members at about 3:15 p.m., and "SUPPORT THE VICTIMS OF THE EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI" had about 21,476 members.
3:45 p.m. Pat Robertson: Haiti made pact with Devil
Pat Robertson, the Christian televangelist and host of "The 700 Club," said on today's broadcast that earthquake-ravaged Haiti was "cursed" by a pact the people made with the Devil.
"They were under the heel of the French...they got together and swore a pact to the Devil," Robertson said. "They said, we will serve you if you get us free from the French....But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing or another."
3:36 p.m. First aerial images of Haiti
There are fears that hundreds of thousands may have died in Haiti's earthquake, but there's still no firm count. In the capital, Port-au-Prince, bodies of small children are piled next to schools. (Jan. 13, Associated Press)
3:35 p.m. All deportations to Haiti on hold
The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have halted all removals to Haiti for the time being in response to Tuesday's earthquake, DHS spokesman Matthew Chandler said. ICE continues to closely monitor the situation.
3:29 p.m. FCC issues waivers to allow fundraising drives
Public television and radio stations that wish to host on-air fundraising drives for Haitian earthquake relief efforts will be able to do so thanks to temporary waivers issued Wednesday by the Federal Communications Commission.
"A number of noncommercial broadcasters have asked for permission to raise funds for relief efforts, which we are happy to give," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.
"These temporary waivers will help tap the American spirit of generosity in this time of great need to aid Haitian relief efforts," he said.
The agency usually prohibits public broadcasters from hosting on-air fundraising drives for any organization other than a station itself. The agency issued similar waivers following Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the Jan. 2005 Southeast Asian tsunami.
Interested stations are asked to file an informal request with FCC officials.
3:12 p.m. Susan Rice: The United States stands with the people of Haiti
Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, issued a statement on the earthquake in Haiti Wednesday afternoon:
"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of yesterday's devastating earthquake in Haiti.
"I spoke with Secretary General Ban last night and twice this morning to coordinate efforts. I let him know that Haiti and MINUSTAH have the full support of the United States government to provide search, rescue and recovery assistance, as we also undertake efforts to assist U.S. personnel and citizens in the country.
"UN peacekeepers and relief workers have been in Haiti for years to help rebuild the country from conflict, as well as destruction from natural disasters. As I witnessed when I was in Haiti last year, the people of Haiti were on a determined path to recovery. This was, in part, made possible by the hard work of the dedicated people of MINUSTAH and other
UN agencies, many of whom are among the unaccounted for today.
"The United States stands with the people of Haiti and with the United Nations and will support both critical immediate response and long-term recovery efforts."
3:08 p.m. Tweets from around the world
World officials including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Jordanian Queen Rania al-Abdullah and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, plus a host of ambassadors and other international officials are buzzing about the effects of yesterday's earthquake in Haiti, and how their countries can send aid to the region.
You can follow the latest reactions and updates from world leaders and the foreign policy community with our Tweets from around the world aggregator.
2:57 p.m."Port-au-Prince is flattened"
"Port-au-Prince is flattened," said Felix Augustin, Haiti's consul general to the United Nations, on Wednesday.
"More than 100,000 are dead," he told reporters.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told CNN's Gary Tuchman that all of Port-au-Prince is either damaged or destroyed, CNN reports, and that in some neighborhoods there no longer seem to be people. Click here for audio of their interview.
2:48 p.m. Ted Turner pledges $1 million for relief efforts
"We are committing $1 million today to address the most urgent humanitarian and re-construction needs in Haiti," Ted Turner said in a statement released today. Turner is the founder and chairman of the United Nations Foundation, as well as a media mogul.
2:41 p.m. American government in action: a round-up
The Post's Federal Eye blog has compiled a list of how U.S. federal government agencies and departments are responding to Tuesday's massive earthquake in Haiti. Click here to read.
2:28 p.m. Haiti: A deeper look
The Post's Ian Shapira writes: "As news reports pour out of Haiti in our tweet-per-second news cycle, it's worth pausing to reflect on Tracy Kidder's 2003 book on Haiti, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World." So many books have been written about nations ravaged by disease and conflict. But Kidder's bestseller about one physician's impact on the nation of 9 million people transcends so many others because it features two very introspective characters: the reporter and the doctor."
Read the rest at The Post's Story Lab blog.
2:25 p.m. FBI issues warning
The Federal Bureau of Investigations has issued a warning on Twitter about giving online and through mobile phones to little-known groups: "Beware of Criminals soliciting Hurricane Relief money for Haiti: Make contributions directly to known organizations. #FBI more on fbi.gov"
("sorry folks, info should have said earthquake not hurricane..but in any case, beware of fraudsters out there looking to profit," @fbipressoffice amended in a follow-up tweet.)
"Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause," an FBI statement said.
Among other tips: don't respond to unsolicited e-mail messages with links; be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for online donations; verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources.
--Liz Heron and Ed O'Keefe
2:20 p.m. Charities set up text-messaging services for donations
Several charities set up text-messaging systems to allow people to give micro donations, in which $5 or $10 goes directly to the charity, if people type in certain key words.
To give $5 to the Yele Foundation (which was the trending topic o Twitter Wednesday morning) founded by musician Wyclef Jean, text Yele to 501501.
To give $5 to the Rescue Union Mission and MedCorp International, text Haiti to 85944.
To give $5 to the International Rescue Committee, text Haiti to 25383.
To give $10 to the American Red Cross, text Haiti to 90999.
You can find more ways to help on our list of organizations that are responding to the crisis in Haiti.
-- Susan Kinzie
2:13 p.m. Clinton will cut trip short
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that after discussing the situation with President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, she has decided to "compress" but not cancel her trip to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia.
Read the full story here.
2:11 p.m. D.C. community converges for Haitian earthquake relief
The Greater Washington Haitian-America Relief Network assembled in Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning to organize relief efforts to deal with the devastating earthquake while trying to cope with not being able to reach friends and family in Haiti. (Anna Uhls / The Washington Post)
1:58 p.m. Three Americans confirmed dead in Haiti
A White House national security official told Haitian activists this afternoon in a conference call that eight U.S. embassy employees had been injured, including three who had to be Medevacd by the Coast Guard to Guantanamo Bay. The official said three American fatalities had been confirmed.
The official said that overflights by the Coast Guard and the U.S. military had found that the impact of the earthquake was concentrated in and around Port-au-Prince and does not appear to be an island-wide situation.
A Coast Guard cutter is providing provisional air traffic control and the U.S. Southern Command is sending a air traffic control unit. The deputy commander of SouthCom was in Port -au-Prince at the time of the quake. Only one of the country's three cell phone providers is providing consistent service.
1:55 p.m. New images of Haiti after the quake
WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO: Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital Wednesday after a powerful earthquake crushed thousands of structures, from shacks to the National Palace and the U.N. peacekeeping headquarters. (Jan. 13, Associated Press)
1:45 p.m. A strike-slip earthquake
Christopher J. Rowan, a geologist with the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh, describes the tectonic shifts that led to the Haitian earthquake in a detailed post on his blog, highlyallochthonous:
"The Caribbean is contained on its own separate little plate; a rather diminutive part of the tectonic jigsaw that is the Earth's crust. It is surrounded on three sides by the much larger North and South American plates, both of which are moving approximately westwards with respect to the Caribbean plate at around 2-3 centimetres a year. On the eastern edge of the plate, the boundary runs perpendicular to the direction of relative plate motion, so there is compression and subduction ... [when one plate slides under another]. However, as the boundary curves around to form the northern boundary of the Caribbean plate, where the Haitian earthquake occurred, it starts to run parallel to the direction of relative plate motion, making strike-slip faulting along E-W trending faults the most likely expression of deformation in this region. This is exactly what the Haitian quake appears to record."
As well, he notes, the proximity of the center of the earthquake to Port-au-Prince "meant that the city would have endured the maximum possible shaking intensity from an earthquake of this size."
1:24 p.m. Bill Clinton to meet with Ban Ki-moon
Former president Bill Clinton is scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations in New York to discuss the crisis in Haiti.
1:17 p.m. Prayers and firsthand accounts
While there are widespread reports of power outages in Port-au-Prince, some residents and visitors to Haiti have been able to update Web sites with firsthand reports of the catastrophe. Tara Livesay wrote on her family blog Wednesday morning:
The sun is about to come up. The aftershocks continue. Some more noticeable than others. There is no way to even begin to share the things we've heard and seen since 5pm yesterday. To do so would take hours that we don't have to give right now. Some of them feel wrong to tell. Like only God should know these personal horrible tragedies.
The few things we can confirm - yes the four story Caribbean Market building is completely demolished. Yes it was open. Yes the National Palace collapsed. Yes Gov't buildings nearby the Palace collapsed. Yes St Josephs Boys home is completely collapsed. Yes countless countless - countless other houses, churches, hospitals, schools, and businesses have collapsed. There are buildings that suffered almost no damage. Right next door will be a pile of rubble....
I cannot imagine what the next few weeks and months will be like. I am afraid for everyone. Never in my life have I seen people stronger than Haitian people. But I am afraid for them. For us.
1:01 p.m. PHOTOS: World reacts to Haiti earthquake
Humanitarian efforts have begun around the world. View the full photo gallery here.
12:44 p.m.: U.N.: Main jail collapsed in earthquake
The United Nations says the main prison in Haiti's battered capital of Port-au-Prince collapsed in the massive earthquake.
A U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman says the U.N. has received reports of escaped inmates. Read more from the Associated Press here.
12:27 p.m.: USS Carl Vinson heading to Haiti
The U.S. has ordered the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to steam south toward Haiti, according to Gen. Douglas Fraser of the U.S. Southern Command. The ship, which is normally stationed at a Norfolk base but was out of dock on a training exercise, won't travel with a full complement of marines and equipment, but the Navy is "provisioning" the ship as it heads south, including by landing helicopters on it as it sails.
12:21 p.m.: More on how to follow the story online
A slew of images from the scene Tuesday came from Daniel Morel, who is posting them on photo-sharing site Twitpic.
You can follow him on Twitter at @carelpedre.
And for more on-the-ground reports, someone has created a Twitter feed of people tweeting from within 100 km of Port-au-Prince.
12:18 p.m.: Haiti: May be tens of thousands dead
Although there are no official estimates of the death toll in Haiti, the prime minister of Haiti just told CNN that he fears that tens of thousands of lives may have been lost from the earthquake. The phone connection suddenly cut out during the CNN interview just after noon.
12:16 p.m.: Relief worker worries about long-term effect on aid
Charles Jakosa, an international development expert, has been managing a USAID project in Port-au-Prince for the past six months but happened to travel to Fairfax on Tuesday for a business meeting. He learned of the quake just after checking into his hotel.
"I immediately attempted to make contact with the project office in Haiti, but I still have not gotten through," Jakosa said. "I've tried calling and haven't been able to reach anyone. I've sent e-mails and heard nothing back."
To Jakosa's relief, someone at the project's U.S. headquarters was eventually able to determine that all staff members in Haiti were safe and there was no structural damage to the project's buildings.
"But I still don't know if our staff members' families and homes are fine," he said. "I wish I was there right now to offer whatever support I possibly could."
Instead, like so many others with friends and relatives in Haiti, Jakosa said he's been "glued to the media" -- staying up late to watch television news and read Internet accounts, and to answer a flurry of emails from friends who think he's still in Haiti and want to make sure he is okay.
"I even heard from my high school Latin teacher," he said.
Jakosa, 44, a former federal prosecutor, also worries about the long-term impact of the earthquake on development initiatives like his project, which aims to improve justice services in the country.
"I really hope that this will not distract from efforts to improve life in Haiti in other areas -- that politically, financially and administratively these efforts will be able to go forward," he said.
For the most part, Jakosa is optimistic. "There's extreme poverty in Haiti, but the people are also fantastically open and welcoming. Haiti is also probably in a decent position to recover from something like this because of its proximity to the United States and because there's already a lot of aid work going on there. There are a lot of international capabilities already in place."
12:06 p.m.: State Department evacuating personnel
According to a top State Department official, the U.S. has ordered the evacuation of about 80 State personnel in Haiti -- spouses, children and non-essential employees of the 172 who work at the embassy will probably be evacuated on Coast Guard planes later this afternoon. Eight embassy employees who were injured, four seriously, have been airlifted out via Coast Guard helicopters.
12:03 p.m.: Obama's remarks, all Haiti video
Here is the full transcript of Obama's remarks on Haiti.
Also, you can view all of our video about Haiti here. We will be updating it throughout the day.
12:00 p.m. FAA: Port-au-Prince airport is operational
The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that the runways at the Port-au-Prince airport in Haiti are operational and humanitarian flights can get into the country.
Spokeswoman Tammy Jones said, however, that the tower at the airport is apparently out of commission and flights can get in only using visual flight rules and only if the weather is good.
"We're told that the runways and the [navigational] aids are operating," she said. Planes are "able to take off and land. ... The tower is not operating but they're able to get flights in and out, but only humanitarian and private flights. ... There are no commercial flights."
-- Michael E. Ruane
11:48 a.m.: Health care disrupted, says Doctors Without Borders
The health-care situation for hundreds of Haitians injured in the earthquake is dire because so many of Port-au-Prince's medical facilities have been damaged, according to Doctors Without Borders. First reports are coming out from teams who were already working on medical projects Haiti, who are now setting up clinics in tents to replace their own damaged medical facilities.
11:34 a.m.: More ways to find on-the-ground reports online
News continues to emerge from Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, but some of the best sources of on-the-ground information are on the web.
@InternetHaiti is aggregating an active stream of tweets coming out of the devastated country.
In addition, at least one Haitian broadcasting channel online remains on air.
11:13 a.m. Va.-based rescue team deploys to Haiti
Fairfax County physicians, paramedics and rescue specialists who work in the area of structural engineering and building collapses, are en route to Haiti to help rescue efforts.
Dan Schmidt, spokesman for the Fairfax County Rescue Department, said the Virginia Task Force 1, which is made up of 72 emergency professionals, was activated by the United States Agency for International Development/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. They were at Dulles International Airport Wednesday morning waiting to take off on a charter flight.
"The mission is to save lives," said Schmidt, adding that team members begin gathering at the Fairfax County Training Academy Tuesday evening where they worked through the night to assemble equipment.
This is familiar duty for the members of the rescue team, which was formed in 1986 to respond to domestic and international disasters.
--Hamil R. Harris
11:03 a.m.: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks on Haiti (unofficial transcript)
SG: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the victims of yesterday's catastrophic earthquake [continues in French].
Information on the full extent of the damage is still scanty. Initial reconnaissance and aerial assessments have been undertaken. It is now clear that the earthquake has had a devastating impact on the capital...
As you are aware, buildings and infrastructure were heavily damaged throughout the capital. Basic services such as water and electricity have collapsed almost entirely.
We are yet to establish the number of dead or injured, which we fear may well be in the hundreds. Medical facilities have been inundated with injured.
There is no doubt that we are facing a major humanitarian emergency and that a major relief effort will be required...
The UN is also mobilizing an emergency response team to help coordinate humanitarian relief efforts, which will be on the ground shortly. We will immediately release $10 million from the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF). In this regard, I am encouraged and appreciative of the willingness of the international community to extend immediate assistance and rescue missions. I am close consultation with the US Government and Haitian Government, as well as many others of the international community's major countries. In these times of difficulties, I would appeal again to the international community for urgent further assistance and urgent further help for them. Thank you very much.
SG: Most of the communications, as I understand, have broken down. But there is a very limited communications channel. We are trying to use satellite communications, but it is very difficult. But, still, we are trying to communicate with them.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, can you say how many people in the headquarters staff there in building, in the Hotel Christopher up on the hill, are accounted for, unaccounted for? And also, there is a report that Mr. Annabi is dead; can you comment?
SG: First of all, I do not, and we do not, have any exact information. What we can assume is that the total at the time that the earthquake struck the MINUSTAH headquarter, there were around 100 or 150 people still working. They were having important meetings. We are still not aware of having any information. The Brazilian peacekeeping forces have been working all the night through to rescue, but because of the darkness, and the impact on the infrastructure, not much progress has been made. With the dawn of daytime, I am sure we will have better rescue operations.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, are you going to meet with the Clinton Foundation, or are you sending, using your Special Envoy, Bill Clinton? Is there any news also about Michéle Montas?
SG: Yes, I have spoken with Special Envoy, President Bill Clinton, yesterday, and this morning, I am going to discuss with him again. We have agreed that both the United Nations and himself as Special Envoy for--
Q: Michéle Montas, do you have any news about her?
SG: I will try to contact her.
Q: What about your Special Representative - Bill's question? What's the latest about him and any other casualties for the United Nations, sir?
SG: Mr. Annabi was having a consultation with a visiting Chinese delegation. Unfortunately, as of now, we are not able to have any confirmation about the safety of Mr. Annabi. We will do our best efforts. Again, the Deputy Special Representative is also unaccounted for, together with many of our staff. That is why I have decided to dispatch Mr. Edmond Mulet, who used to be a Special Representative, to manage this operation...
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, how soon do you plan on going to see the scene yourself?
SG: Myself? I am willing to visit
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you said that several badly injured UN staffers had been pulled from the wreckage. Were there any bodies pulled from the wreckage, also? And it seems pretty clear from what you said that there are going to be some serious UN casualties. Also, could you comment on the need for heavy equipment to lift some of the rubble, because this apparently is one of the problems, not just for the UN but in--
SG: For that question, I will ask one of my senior advisors to answer. For your second question, I have been in urgent contact with the US Government and I have requested officially [for them] to provide more logistical support and heavy equipment, and trained rescue and assistance teams. And our Force Commander is in contact with the American military commander, and I will continue to coordinate with the US Government. Now, I am very much grateful to the US Government and many other governments who have expressed their willingness to dispatch urgent and immediate assistance teams. I will continue to coordinate with them.
If you excuse me, I have another important meeting, so I will have some of our senior advisers to answer further questions. Thank you very much.
10:52 a.m.: VIDEO: Report from Global Orphan Project
"This is video sent on the day of the earthquake. The Global Orphan Project supports over 2200 kids in Haiti. This video was sent through the Cambry Technical Center to Shane Hackett and Frantz St. Germain."
10:43 a.m.: Obama: U.S. sending rescue teams to Haiti
President Obama pledged Wednesday morning that his administration would "respond with a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives" in Haiti in the aftermath of what he called an "especially cruel and incomprehensible tragedy."
He said first reports of the devastation "are truly heart-wrenching."
Among the top U.S. priorities, Obama said, are accounting for Americans who live in Port-au-Prince and mobilizing resources to assist rescue efforts. He said military planes have flown over the area to assess the damage and search and rescue teams from Virginia, Florida and California are due to arrive Wednesday and Thursday.
The president announced that he has designated Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as the government's "unified disaster coordinator." Although he said many Americans are experiencing tough economic times at home, Obama urged people to check the White House Web site to learn how to help Haitians affected by the quake. "We have to be there for them in their hour of need," he said.
10:38 a.m.: More ways to help
We've been updating our list of ways to donate to relief efforts in Haiti.
10:33 a.m. Eyewitness report: Haiti's Salvation Army chief
"When the earthquake struck, I was driving down the mountain from Petionville," reported Bob Poff, director of disaster services for the Salvation Army in Haiti, who moved to Port-au-Prince with his wife in April. The charity has been in Haiti since 1950, operating schools, clinics, and many programs across the country and in the capital close to the epicenter.
"Our truck was being tossed to and fro like a toy, and when it stopped, I looked out the windows to see buildings 'pancaking' down, like I have never witnessed before," Poff wrote in an email to U.S. colleagues at the Salvation Army. "Traffic, of course, came to a stand-still, while thousands of people poured out into the streets, crying, carrying bloody bodies, looking for anyone who could help them. We piled as many bodies into the back of our truck, and took them down the hill with us, hoping to find medical attention. All of them were older, scared, bleeding, and terrified. It took about 2 hours to go less than 1 mile. Traffic was horrible, devastation was everywhere, and suffering humanity was front and center.
"When we could drive no further, we left the truck parked on the side of the street, and walked the remaining 2 miles to get back to the Army compound. What I found was very sad! All of the security walls were down. The Children's Home itself seems pretty intact, but our quarters, which is attached, are destroyed. Unlivable. The walls and ceiling are still standing -- but so badly compromised that I wouldn't even think of trying to stay there."
The clinic and church suffered major damages, several homes collapsed entirely, but no one was hurt there. The Salvation Army turned another building, with administrative offices, into the center for its emergency operations in the region. The Salvation Army's World Services Office, based in Alexandria, has committed $50,000 already and is mobilizing disaster teams and shipments of 44,000 pounds of emergency rations.
The children, and hundreds of neighbors, slept in the playground through the aftershocks that night, Poff wrote, the air echoing with the cries of frightened children. A staff member went to try to help one woman in her home, he wrote. "But it was too late."
10:26 a.m. 'There's so little left'
Nadia Dubuche, 46, of Silver Spring, said her family stayed up all night trying to reach relatives in Haiti. They took turns calling frantically throughout the night. Dubuche made several dozen frantic attempts while watching the coverage on TV before she had to leave for a late-night shift at her job as a nurse.
All night long she worried as she worked, she said.
"We couldn't get through. There was no contact, no electricity," she said. "My mother didn't sleep at all, she just kept trying all the different numbers over and over." This morning, Dubuche's mother finally got word from one of her mother's nephews.
"All he said was they're okay, but not everyone is confirmed," she said. "And no one knows what they lost, how bad the damage was for them, what's still left."
Dubuche said she was born and raised in the Carrefour neighborhood, one of the hardest hit in the earthquake. All morning, she has stared at the pictures being shown on TV but couldn't recognize any of the streets shown. "There's so little left, I see the name on TV, but it doesn't look like anything that was before."
Dubuche belongs to Eglise Baptiste du Calvaire in Adelphi, one of the largest Haitian churches in the D.C. suburbs, with more than 500 attendees weekly. She said her church was preparing to go to Haiti at the end of the month for one of its frequent relief trips to the country. "We had prepared food and clothes for people after a recent hurricane and after a school collapsed. We even sent the truck with the supplies already. We were just preparing to go and help distribute."
There's no word whether the truck survived the collapse, and now, in any case, the church will have to prepare an even larger truck and missions trip in response to the earthquake, Dubuche said.
10:20 a.m.: Obama speaks on Haiti
"The reports and images that we see...are truly heartwrenching," President Obama said in a morning statement from the White House. He promised a "swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives...to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble and to deliver the humanitarian relief ...that will be needed in coming days."
10:11 a.m. Crisis in Haiti causes temporary lull in partisan warfare
Two Captial Hill Republicans have released statements pledging help for Haiti's earthquake victims and praising President Obama's response:
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor released the following statement regarding the devastating earthquake in Haiti:
"We appreciate President Obama's immediate response to this catastrophic tragedy, and stand ready to assist in any way. In this pressing time of need, I know that the good faith and generosity of our citizens will no doubt help. Our Government and the American people prepared to do all that we can provide assistance, comfort and resources to the people of Haiti and their families."
Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released a similar statement:
"While the U.S. is already sending federal aid and assets, I am confident that the generosity of the American people will be what it so regularly is in these tragedies--an inspiring expression of responsibility and benevolence. I appreciate the administration's immediate response to this crisis and that of our partners around the world."
10:00 a.m.: World Vision: Port-au-Prince view is bleak
A staff member for World Vision, one of the largest U.S. aid agencies in Haiti, told employees at the Seattle headquarters that the city is not entirely collapsed, as she had heard some say, but that the sweeping view from their office in the hills over the city of Port-au-Prince was grim. She could see many large multi-story buildings toppled and debris blocking roads, said Rachel Wolff, director of international news World Vision, who relayed the conversation from this morning.
They were told many people were afraid to sleep in their homes during the aftershocks, and spent the night in the streets.
Their 370 staff members who live and work in the country are all safe, Wolff said, and are working to figure out ways to move supplies into the capital with damaged communications, roads closed and other problems. They had positioned hurricane-season emergency supplies outside the capital, which typically is sheltered from the worst of the storms. "Ironically we're now having to move those in as soon as we're able to the areas that are hardest hit."
They do have a box with hygiene kits, water-purifying tablets, collapsible water containers and other emergency supplies that can help 1,500 families in Port-au-Prince.
They're expecting that transporting blankets, bottled water, soap, and other supplies over the roads is going to be the greatest challenge in the coming days; even in the best of times, Haitian roads can be difficult to travel.
More aid workers from the U.S. and Canada are flying in now to help, Wolff said, and a warehouse in Denver is preparing for a likely airlift of supplies today.
9:49 a.m.: UN headquarters in Haiti collapsed in quake
The United Nations peacekeeping headquarters in Haiti has collapsed, killing everyone inside, according to France's foreign minister. The head of the country's mission is among the dead.
9:46 a.m.: Haiti's American embassy reacts to earthquake
At the Haitian embassy on Massachusetts avenue Wednesday morning, ambassador Raymond A. Joseph said he managed to place a phone call Tuesday night to Fritz Longchamp, the secretary general to Haitian President Rene Preval.
"He is the first one I was able to get in touch with," Joseph said. "He was leaving ... work. He was driving from Port au Prince, the capital, to Petionville -- that's a suburb east of the capital, in the hills.
"And he said, 'the buildings started to collapse around me, right and left,'" Joseph said. "He says he had to stop and park his car and (walk) on foot to go home."
"That was about 5:18 last night," he said. He reached Longchamp on his cell phone, and said Longchamp told him it was "a miracle" that they got a connection.
Also, Joseph said the embassy spoke to the first lady of Haiti, Elizabeth Debrosse Preval.
"She said that she was well, and the president was well," Joseph said, "and that most government employees were fine, were okay, because they had been out of the government buildings. See, (the earthquake) was after work."
Joseph said communication with Haiti still is very limited, and information is sketchy. "We are in the assessment stage," he said.
"God has given; God has taken away," he said. "Let's work with the living."
-- Michael E. Ruane
9:33 a.m.: Send us your photos, questions for aid workers
Photos are starting to come in from washingtonpost.com users. If you're in Haiti, you can submit photos and see those from other users here.
Also, submit questions now for Bill Canny, Catholic Relief Services' director of emergency operations, who is live chatting now.
9:21 a.m.: Obama to speak at 10 a.m.
President Obama will make a statement about the earthquake in Haiti at 10 a.m., according to a White House press release.
9:03 a.m.: U.S. husband saves wife trapped in Haiti earthquake rubble
A man drove 100 miles to Port-au-Prince and dug through the rubble for over an hour to find his wife, an American aid worker, and her co-worker.
Frank Thorp told CBS's "The Early Show" by phone from Haiti on Wednesday that once he learned of the quake, he rushed to Haiti's capital city and eventually saved his wife Jill and her colleague Charles Dietsch, who were trapped for about 10 hours under the rubble of their mission house. The two were buried under about a foot of concrete, he said.
"We had to pull bricks and bricks and bricks and wood and doors and metal away for at least an hour before we were able to get her and her co-worker out," he said.
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