A major earthquake hit impoverished Haiti on Tuesday, toppling buildings in the capital Port-au-Prince, burying residents in rubble and causing many deaths and injuries.The magnitude 7.0 quake, whose epicentre was inland and only 16 km from Port-au-Prince, sent panic-stricken people screaming into the streets of the city, as a cloud of dust and smoke from falling buildings rose into the sky.
As darkness fell amid scenes of chaos and anguished cries from victims, residents desperately tried to dig out survivors or searched for missing relatives in debris-strewn streets.
The presidential palace was among the buildings damaged, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, Raymond Alcide Joseph, told CNN.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and has a history of destructive natural disasters. Some 9,000 U.N. police and troops are stationed there to maintain order.
The major quake, followed by several aftershocks, prompted a tsunami watch for parts the Caribbean but this was later cancelled.