Haiti

ACT responding to Haiti earthquake

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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - People buried alive when houses collapsed

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people were buried alive when a major earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, the capital of impoverished Haiti on Tuesday. The magnitude 7.0 quake sent panic-stricken people into the streets. Offices, hotels, houses and shops collapsed, and people were screaming "Jesus, Jesus", not knowing where to run. The presidential palace lay in ruins, and many churches have been destroyed. Members of ACT Alliance are already in place, assisting those affected by the earthquake. The ACT Secretariat in Geneva is coordinating the relief operations of its members, and more details will follow in the coming hours.

Massive destruction

The city is without electricity, the telephone network has broken down. The UN headquarter has collapsed. People are sitting in the streets with nowhere to go. The office of ACT member Christian Aid was destroyed, but staff were unharmed and are now responding to the emergency.

John Nduna, the General Secretary of ACT Alliance expresses condolences with the affected families and with UN and other organizations that have lost their people in the buildings.

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, also expresses condolences and solidarity with the people of Haiti. "Once again they have experienced the great burdens of anguish, damage, and death because of a natural catastrophe. They have already carried many burdens of political instability and poverty," Fykse Tveit says.

Hit again

In 2004 more than 3,000 people died because of Hurricane Jeanne which passed over the northwest city of Gonaives. The same area was hit again in 2008 when four tropical storm systems passed through the region. In 2004 political instability led to the ousting of the President Jean-Baptiste Aristide.

ACT Alliance members on Haiti:

Christian Aid

Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe - DKH

Lutheran World Federation - LWF

Swiss Interchurch Aid - HEKS

United Methodist Committee on Relief - UMCOR

For further information, please contact:

ACT Communications Officer

Tomm Kristiansen

+4179 791 6039 / mobile +41 79 358 3171

ACT Assistant Communications Officer

Sandra Cox

+4179 791 6711 / mobile +41 79 681 1868

Action by Churches Together (ACT) International is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide.