A 7.0 magnitude earthquake just hit Haiti. Details so far are sketchy. Twitter is probably your best source for now. In the meantime, it is worth recalling that Haiti is still recovering from back to back to back hurricaines in 2008. It is also a very densly populated island.
The U.S. has no troops in Haiti, but the United Nations mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, has about 7,000 UN Peacekeers that are able to help in the recovery. It also has president Bill Clinton, who is the UN Special Envoy for Haiti, to help muster a robust international response. We will keep an eye on this situation.
This seems like a good twitter account to follow. He/She says “A huge hospital that was being built across from the Oloffson has collapsed.”
First picture I’ve seen, from AP.
The United States Geological Survey lists the most affected cities. Carrefour tops the list.
The Red Cross and UNICEF have ways to help.
The National Palace has apparently been destroyed. I imagine that this is one of the more sturdy buildings in Port-au-Prince. Very scary.
Another good Twitter account to follow, who says “much destruction on Grand Rue (Ave Dessalines) Daniel Morel’s ok. Police Sta, Cathedral, Downtown teleco, Church St Anne all destroyed”
New York Times posts picture of a destroyed bank.
UPDATE IV: On PBS last night, “Despite years of crushing poverty, hope grows in Haiti” Haiti really can’t catch a break.
Another Twitter accounts to follow here
Twitter user RAMhaiti: “It’s 8:44PM and we’re still getting aftershocks!!I can hear people gathered in the distance singing prayers”
UPDATE VI: A very disturbing and curt report from AFP: “The headquarters of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti has been destroyed in large part. There are numerous people underneath the rubble, both dead and injured,” a local employee of the force said. Keep in mind, these are the very people who would be first responders themselves.
UPDATE VII: The social media crisis mapping platform Ushahidi has a new Haiti microsite
UPDATE: VIII: This isn’t an update so much as an opportunity to plug some stuff I’ve written about Haiti in the past. This post, from May 2007, gives a pretty good background of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH. It has played a very important role in maintaining peace and security in Haiti. I am growing increasingly worried about reports of deaths at the missions Port-au-Prince headquarters.
Also, here is Bill Clinton discussing the challenges facing Haiti when he was selected as the UN special envoy for Haiti.
UPDATE VIV: A terrible picture: The National Palace.
UPDATE VV: The UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is deploying a team from its regional headquarters in Panama. From OCHA.