PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A powerful earthquake struck Haiti’s capital on Tuesday with withering force, toppling everything from simple shacks to the ornate National Palace. The dead and injured lay in the streets even as strong aftershocks rippled through the impoverished Caribbean country.
Associated Press journalists based in Port-au-Prince said the damage from the quake — the most powerful to hit Haiti in more than 200 years — is staggering even in a country accustomed to tragedy and disaster. Thousands of people gathered in public squares late into the night, singing hymns and weeping.
Many gravely injured people sat in the streets early Wednesday, pleading for doctors. With almost no emergency services to speak of, the surivors had few other options.
The scope of the disaster remained unclear early Wednesday, and even a rough estimate of the number of casualties was impossible. But it was clear from a tour of the capital that tens of thousands of people had lost their homes and that many had perished. Many buildings in Haiti are flimsy and dangerous even under normal conditions.