Thousands of families have been forced onto the streets and are in urgent need of clean water, shelter and medical assistance. Save the Children's response teams are carrying out assessments on the ground and are preparing to get life-saving supplies into the country amid very difficult conditions.
Gareth Owen, Save the Children's Emergency Director said: "This is a major disaster and we are expecting the number of casualties to rise significantly. It's crucial we move fast to get help to thousands of children and their parents who are living in dangerous conditions on the streets without shelter or any way of getting clean water, food or medical assistance.
"Port-au-Prince is densely populated and sanitation is already very bad - many families don't have toilets and piles of rubbish are strewn around the city - so we also need to prepare for the possibility of a major disease outbreak."
"Children are the most vulnerable in this kind of crisis, and many may have lost their parents in the chaos of the earthquake. It's a hugely traumatic experience for any child to go through, and we have to make sure we get help and protection to them fast."
Aid agencies are facing major logistical challenges to get help to families in urgent need, warns Save the Children.
Gareth Owen continued: "Electricity is down across the country and because the city is built on a mountain there's a risk of landslides which could cut off roads and prevent aid getting through. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and its infrastructure is very poor. It's a very challenging operating environment, but Save the Children is used to responding to these kinds of challenges, and with money from this appeal we'll be able to get essential help to families even quicker and save more children's lives."
Save the Children has worked in Haiti since 1985, primarily in the capital city of Port-au-Prince and the Central Plateau region, providing health, education, protection and food security programmes to vulnerable children.
To donate to Save the Children's Haiti earthquake appeal, call +44 207 012 6400 or go to www.savethechildren.org.uk
For interviews with emergency workers in Haiti and with Save the Children's UK emergency team in London or around the world (who have experience of working in Haiti) please contact the media office: +44 207 021 6841 or out of hours on +44 7831 650 409. Photos are also available.