7.0 Earthquake in Haiti a Major Disaster
A catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti on Tuesday just prior to 5 p.m. with a magnitude of 7.0, the equivalent of close to 30 thousand kilotons of TNT, or the strength if a 30 megaton bomb. A quake of this magnitude was predicted in 2008, but Haiti was not financially equipped to prepare for such a disaster.
The U.S. was the first country to offer aid to the stricken island nation and reports state the capital of Port-au-Prince was practically destroyed. Casualties are wide-spread and the level of devastation has yet to be calculated. Haiti's first lady, Elisabeth Debrosse Delatour, has requested aid in the form a "hospital ship" to help treat the injured.
The Caribbean nation of Haiti is no stranger to disasters of epic proportions. With the unwanted distinction of being the poorest country in the western hemisphere, it takes only the most minor of hazards to wreak havoc on the island nation. Hammered by hurricanes, flooding, and civil unrest, Haiti's problems run deep.
The biggest issues now are to help those still trapped in the rubble, prevent further injuries from unstable buildings, provide relief in the form of food and water, as well as medical aid and restore a sense of order. Just getting aid workers in to the country is proving a logistical nightmare - though at least one airport is semi-functioning.
Haiti is especially susceptible to damage due to poor construction and lax building codes, even the presidential palace was destroyed.Compounding the dangers and fears were dozens of strong aftershocks of 4.0 magnitudes or higher striking after the first quake, trapping many more and causing further damage. There are currently no estimates of the number of dead or wounded. Even more misery is expected after learning a five-story U.N Peacekeeping compound was destroyed which housed approximately 250 workers.
As more information trickles out, we will be able to update with details on the number of dead and the level of destruction. Aid relief foundations are being set up quickly to help those in need.
Image credit: AP/Reuters