Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake near the capital that destroyed buildings and left thousands of people dead or missing.
The temblor was centered 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince, a city of about 2 million inhabitants, at 4:53 p.m. local time yesterday, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its Web site. An official casualty count has yet to be announced and phone lines are out across the capital.
Port-au-Prince is in “total chaos,” with clouds of dust from collapsed buildings covering the city and fears that thousands may be dead, Robyn Fieser, a spokeswoman with the Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore, said after receiving reports from representatives in the country. At least 13 aftershocks with a magnitude above 4.5 have struck the area, according to the USGS.