Haiti

Haiti Earthquake Update: Jan. 13, 2010 10 a.m.

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World Concern's disaster response expert Merry Fitzpatrick will leave from SeaTac Airport on Alaska Airlines flight 16 to Miami at 1:15 this afternoon. Media availability will be between 10:30 am and 11:30 am at SeaTac, near the Alaska ticket counter.

This morning, World Concern has heard from one other staff member in Haiti over e-mail. Pierre Duclona directs World Concern's programs in South Haiti, and he said that he was safe and his family was safe, but scattered throughout the region have collapsed because of the earthquake. The e-mail reads in part:

"Les Cayes citizens were terrified yesterday night. Most of them, including my family, slept out (in front of our homes) fearing other major earthquakes. Port Au Prince, the capital city, is largely destroyed. Right (now) I'm alone at the office to inform you."

An initial report from World Concern Haiti indicates that the primary office in Port Au Prince remains standing , though the earthquake destroyed surrounding buildings, some with people still inside. Staff and families of staff were still being accounted for.

"It has just happened and it is their own families that are in the midst of it," said Fitzpatrick

World Concern's staff of more than 100 people has already begun responding to urgent needs. During this initial response, we are providing blankets, emergency shelters and supplies of clean water. There is a very high likelihood that existing water systems will be combined with sewage.

Fitzpatrick says it is also likely that people who have escaped from the quake into the streets may elect to sleep outside until they have confidence their homes are safe to enter.

The director of World Concern's operations in Haiti made one phone call shortly after the quake, describing people yelling in the street and buildings collapsed. Substandard construction in Haiti puts families in apartment buildings and children in schools at great risk.

"He said that the office shook really bad, that the building next door collapsed, that there were people running in the streets in shock, screaming and crying," said Fitzpatrick.

After that one phone call, we have been unable to make contact again to find out more details. It appears early all lines of communication are either severed or overloaded.

Our main need at this moment is cash donations towards the relief effort.

Haiti Earthquake Jan. 12, 2010 5 p.m.

World Concern's disaster response team is responding to a major earthquake in Haiti. Our primary office in Port Au Prince is still standing, but the building next to ours has collapsed, as have many buildings in Port Au Prince.

We will provide blankets, plastic sheeting and emergency supplies of water. There is a very high likelihood that the water systems will be combined with sewage. In our experience, it is likely that people who have escaped from the quake into the streets may elect to sleep outside tonight.

News agencies have reported the quake measured 7.3 on the Richter scale. Substandard construction in many poor communities in Haiti will undoubtedly lead to building collapses, injuries and deaths.