(As somebody who has lived through two earthquakes this size, my heart goes out to the people of Haiti.)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The largest earthquake to hit Haiti in more than 200 years rocked the Caribbean nation Tuesday, collapsing a hospital where people screamed for help and heavily damaging other buildings. U.S. officials reported bodies lying in the streets and an aid official described “total disaster and chaos.”
Communications were widely disrupted, making it impossible to get a full picture of damage as powerful aftershocks shook a desperately poor country where many buildings are flimsy. Electricity was out in some places.
Karel Zelenka, a Catholic Relief Services representative in Port-au-Prince, told U.S. colleagues before phone service failed that “there must be thousands of people dead,” according to a spokeswoman for the aid group, Sara Fajardo.
“He reported that it was just total disaster and chaos, that there were clouds of dust surrounding Port-au-Prince,” Fajardo said from the group’s offices in Maryland.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in Washington that embassy personnel were “literally in the dark” after power failed.