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Plan staff reported widespread panic when the 7.23 magnitude quake and 2 strong aftershocks struck. It is the most powerful earthquake to have hit the island of Hispaniola in more than 100 years.
Specialist staff response
Right now, extra Plan disaster response specialists are being sent to Haiti, and staff from the neighbouring Plan Dominican Republic offices have been made available to assist. So far, it has been reported that up to 3,000,000 people have been affected by the earthquake.
"The situation is terrible, people are screaming and there is a total darkness around the city," one Plan staff member said, also adding that the Plan Haiti central office in Port-au-Prince was among those badly damaged by the earthquake and is now unsafe.
Away from the central urban area of Port-au-Prince, Plan staff reported severe damage in Jacmel and Croix-des-Bouquets, two of the areas where they operate. A tsunami alert was issued for Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba in the wake of the earthquake but was recalled shortly thereafter. According to Plan staff there was some panic when the ocean pulled back, but for now it has returned to normal.
Assisting children and families
Roger Yates, Plan Director of disasters and humanitarian response, said: "Of all the countries in the region, Haiti is the most vulnerable...our experience from other earthquakes is that the impact upon Haiti's fragile infrastructure will be severely felt for some time to come. Our priority is assisting children and their families and getting people at risk into safe accommodation wherever possible."
Plan will also be working to help ease the psychological trauma caused by the disaster, as well as ensuring that children are protected throughout the recovery effort.