Strong Earthquake Rocks Haiti

News and Press Release
Originally published
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VOA News 12 January 2010

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 has struck the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake struck Tuesday afternoon, and that it was followed by two aftershocks with magnitudes of 5.9 and 5.0. The initial quake struck at a depth of only 10 kilometers, and was centered about 16 kilometers from Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince.

There are unconfirmed reports that a hospital has collapsed. A tsunami watch has been issued for the neighboring Dominican Republic, along with Cuba and the Bahamas.

Haiti's ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, told CNN that the Caribbean nation will be seeking U.S. assistance. He called the quake a major catastrophe, telling the network he is calling on friends of Haiti to come to the country's aid.

Haiti is the Western Hemisphere's poorest country. Recent development efforts have suffered severe setbacks because of political violence and lawlessness, corruption and natural disasters. Seventy percent of the population lives on the equivalent of less than $2 per day.

Last year, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, sought to assure international investors that Haiti has regained stability and is a safe place to do business.