Hundreds feared dead in Haiti earthquake

Worst earthquake in two centuries hits south of Haitian capital city

Hundreds of people are feared dead in Haiti after a huge earthquake hit the Caribbean country.

The 7.0-magnitude quake -- Haiti's worst in two centuries -- hit south of the capital, Port-au-Prince. In the space of a minute, it had destroyed buildings including the UN mission's headquarters and the presidential palace.

The UN has reported that a "large number" of personnel are missing.

Port-au-Prince is densely populated, with many shanty areas containing insecure structure, and aid workers at the scene have expressed fears that the death toll could rise into thousands.

According to eye witness reports, the city is currently in total darkness. Further aftershocks are feared and many people are sleeping outside.

The quake struck about 15k (10 miles) south-west of Port-au-Prince just before 5pm local time (just before 10pm GMT) and was soon followed by two powerful aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5 magnitude.

Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, has suffered many natural disasters. Hundreds died in four hurricanes and storms in 2008. The cost of rebuilding could run into billions.

 

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