ACT Alert Haiti: Earthquake magnitude 7.0 hit the capital city and surroundings

News and Press Release
Originally published
Geneva, 14th January 2010

On 12 January 2010, at 16:53pm local time, an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 hit the capital city Port-au-Prince as well as the surrounding areas. It epicentre was located 20 km West of the city.

The Red Cross estimates the death toll between 45,000 to 50,000, Reuters Alertnet reports. In Port-au-Prince, it is estimated that 60 to 80% of buildings collapse. More than a million people are without shelter and no immediate prospect of accommodation in camps. These figures remain as estimates as it will take more time to have a full overview of the magnitude of the damage. Many people are sleeping outside fearing aftershocks or because homes have been reduced to rubble. The BBC reports that rescue teams and medical services are overwhelmed. There is urgent need of food and water.

ACT members in Haiti are Christian Aid, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO). They reported yesterday that blocked streets continued to make needs assessments visits very difficult. Many houses in the slums have collapsed, triggered by the shallow nature of the quake. Little heavy equipment can be found to free trapped survivors, remove rubble and clear streets. Even shovels are in short supply.

Two staff, from LWF and UMCOR are among the tens of thousands feared dead, prompting requests from ACT Alliance for prayers.

The ACT Alliance will field a Rapid Support Team to reinforce the capacity of members in Haiti. The Rapid Support Team will be made up of a coordinator, a finance officer, a communicator, and a security person who are preparing to head to Haiti. As coordinator of the ACT Haiti forum, the Lutheran World Federation is taking the lead on the response.

Members of the RST are expected to stay between two and four weeks, after which time they may be replaced. The team will assist implementing members prepare their response, coordinate relief, and coordinate with other agencies on external and internal communications.

ACT member Norwegian Church Aid is preparing to send water and sanitation engineers to Haiti, as well as a communicator. A preliminary appeal, indicating the size and type of relief response, is under preparation.

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jessie Kgoroeadira, ACT Finance Officer (jkg@actalliance.org) .

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Deputy General Secretary, Jill Hawkey (phone +41 22 791 6069) or

ACT Program Officer, Michael Zschiegner (phone +41 22 791 6420 or mobile phone +41 79 608 8133)

ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org (new ACT Alliance web site will be launched in March)