PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The largest earthquake ever
recorded in the area shook
Haiti on Tuesday, collapsing a hospital where
people screamed for help. Other buildings also were
damaged and scientists said they expected "substantial
damage and casualties."
disrupted there were no reports of deaths or injuries
soon after the quake, as powerful aftershocks shook
The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0
and was centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) west
of the capital of
Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey
said. It had a depth of 5 miles (8 kilometers). It was
the largest quake recorded in the area, said USGS
analyst Dale Grant, and the last major one since a
magnitude-6.7 temblor in 1984.
An Associated Press videographer saw the wrecked
Petionville, a hillside Port-au-Prince district
that is home to many diplomats and wealthy
Elsewhere, a U.S. government official reported seeing
houses that had tumbled into a ravine.
Haiti's ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Joseph,
said from his Washington office that he spoke to
President Rene Preval's chief of staff, Fritz
Longchamp, just after the quake hit. He said Longchamp
told him that "buildings were crumbling right and
left" near the
palace. He said he has not gotten through by
phone to Haiti since.
Don Blakeman, an analyst at the USGS in Golden,
Colorado, said such a strong quake carried the
potential for widespread damage.
"I think we are going to see substantial damage and
casualties," he said.
The quake was felt in the
Dominican Republic, which shares a border with
Haiti on the island of
Hispaniola. Some panicked residents in the
Domingo fled from their shaking homes.
In eastern Cuba, houses shook but no major damage
was immediately reported.
"We felt it very strongly and I would say for a
long time. We had time to evacuate," said Monsignor
Dionisio Garcia, archbishop of Santiago.
In Haiti, the extent of the damage was unclear.
"Everybody is just totally, totally freaked out and
shaken," said Henry Bahn, a
Department of Agriculture official visiting
Haiti. "The sky is just gray with dust."
Bahn said he was walking to his hotel room when the
ground began to shake.
"I just held on and bounced across the wall," he
said. "I just hear a tremendous amount of noise and
shouting and screaming in the distance."
Bahn said there were rocks strewn about and he saw
a ravine where several homes had stood: "It's just
full of collapsed walls and rubble and barbed wire."
The U.S. National Weather Service issued a tsunami
watch for Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the
but said historically the region has seen few
In Washington, State Department spokesman Gordon
Duguid said U.S. officials were holding emergency
"We need to gather what information we can quickly.
We will of course assist in any way we can," he said.
Felix Augustin, Haiti's consul general in
York, said he was concerned about everyone in
Haiti, including his relatives.
"Communication is absolutely impossible," he said.
"I've been trying to call my ministry and I cannot get
through. ... It's mind-boggling."
Associated Press writers David Koop in
Lee in Washington and Andrea Rodriguez in
contributed to this report.