The exceptionally severe earthquake - 7.0 on the Richter scale according to the US earthquake centre USGS - caused damage whose extent still cannot be assessed in Haïti on Tuesday night. The epicentre was about 20 km west of the capital Port-au-Prince. It is very likely that the effects are devastating.
At the moment we have no reports that Swiss nationals are among the victims.
Switzerland made an offer of assistance to the Haïtian government during the night. A rescue team left Switzerland for Haïti on Wednesday at 10.50am. Its task is to strengthen the SDC programme office and the Swiss embassy in the country, to identify what needs to be done and to initiate emergency measures. The deployment of Swiss Rescue is now under consideration.
Haïti, with a population of about 9 million, is the poorest state in the western hemisphere. UN peacekeeping troops have been deployed in the country since 2004.