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Major catastrophe as earthquake smashes Haiti
Damage reported: A map showing the earthquake location in Haiti
Posted 1 hour 5 minutes ago
Updated 22 minutes ago
Haiti's ambassador to the US says a "catastrophe of major proportions" is unfolding in his country this morning after a major 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit near the capital Port-Au-Prince.
The epicentre of the quake, which was initially reported off the coast, was located inland, 10km west of Carrefour, close to the capital, and was only 30km deep.
One witness says buildings have collapsed in Port-Au-Prince and people can be heard screaming. The witness says dead and injured are under the rubble.
Ambassador Raymond Alcide Joseph told CNN he was heartbroken as he had just spoken by telephone with a senior presidential aide who described scenes of chaos and devastation.
"He had to stop his car just about half an hour ago, and take to the streets, start walking, but he said houses were crumbling on the right side of the street and the left side of the street," Mr Joseph said.
"He does not know whether he would reach his home, not knowing what he would find, because he had a bridge to cross to get there."
An AFP correspondent said the ground shook for more than a minute.
Another AFP correspondent in Petionville said one three-storey building was toppled, and a tractor was already at the scene trying to dig out victims as people fled onto the streets in panic. The up-scale area is home to many foreign diplomats and members of a major United Nations mission to the country.
"Just experienced a MAJOR earthquake here in Port au Prince - walls were falling down. - we are ALL fine - pray for those in the slums," Twitter user Troy Livesay wrote this morning.
Other reports say at least one hospital has collapsed.
The quake was followed by at least two weaker aftershocks.
A major earthquake of magnitude 7 or higher is capable of causing widespread and heavy damage. There was no immediate report of damage or casualties.
A tsunami watch was in effect for Haiti, Cuba, The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
"A destructive widespread tsunami threat does not exist based on historical earthquake and tsunami data," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.
"However, there is the possibility of a local tsunami that could affect coasts located usually no more than a 100 kilometres from the earthquake epicentre."
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.
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