Around three million people live in the area of Haiti worst hit by the quake and many have lost family, homes, livelihoods and essential services. Red Cross volunteers are assisting the injured and supporting hospitals struggling to cope with this emergency.
The earthquake struck on Tuesday 12 January at 4.53 pm local time (9.53 pm GMT). It hit the capital Port-au-Prince and other areas nearby. More than 20 aftershocks have continued wreaking destruction. Government buildings have collapsed including the presidential palace. The Haitian Red Cross headquarters and United Nations buildings have also sustained damage.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) - which in major crises brings together 13 leading UK aid agencies to raise money to help save lives and rebuild shattered communities - is now launching an appeal.
Pete Garratt, British Red Cross disaster response manager, said: "The full extent of the devastation is not yet clear, but this is a densely populated region and up to three million could be affected. It's important that we all come together to raise as much money as we can.
"There are currently no shelters for people and they are staying in the streets. They're frightened by the aftershocks and the situation is very tense. Red Cross staff and volunteers are on the scene carrying out search and rescue, providing first aid and distributing relief. We already had pre-positioned emergency stocks in Haiti and additional aid is on its way and will land within the next few hours."
One of the main hospitals in the capital has collapsed and two hospitals in Turgeau are destroyed. Other hospitals are overwhelmed with the injured. Electric and telephone lines as well as water mains have been destroyed in the areas of Turgeau, Pakot and Canape Vert. Many roads are destroyed.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has deployed a field assessment team to assess emergency and early recovery needs, including the restoration of livelihoods and permanent shelter.
The Federation has also deployed a number of emergency response teams who will set up a mobile field hospital, provide clean water and distribute relief.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has set up a special website to help thousands of people within Haiti and abroad who have lost contact with their loved ones. The most urgent needs at this time are search and rescue, hospital care, emergency health, clean water, emergency shelter and telecommunications.
Along with the generosity of the public, the Vodafone Foundation immediately made a £25,000 donation to the appeal, Tesco made a donation of £50,000 and the Freemasons' Grand Charity also quickly pledged their support with a donation. However, the sheer scale of this disaster means much more will be needed.
Please give generously to the British Red Cross Haiti earthquake appeal and show your support for families who have lost everything.
In the event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.