Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Earthquake Jan 12 2010

Seth should have been almost exactly 100 miles east of the epicenter of the Haitian earthquake. Santo Domingo is another 50 miles east of where Seth is. The news said they felt the quake strongly in Santo Domingo so Seth would have gotten rattled good. The tsunami warning has been cancelled. Since he's 7 miles from the ocean that's a good thing. People at the same distance from the epicenter are reporting damage to their homes and furniture moving a meter across floors in buildings.

Email from the Mission Office received 8:20 PM Tucson time.
Dom Rep Santo Domingo West Mission

Dear Parents,

On behalf of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo West Mission, we would like to inform you that this afternoon an earthquake struck right off the Haitian Capital Port-au-Prince. The extent of the damage is likely to be catastrophic, and ours brothers and Sisters in Haiti really need our thoughts and prayers at this time.

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that at this hour there are no reports of injury or damage to missionaries or church facility in the Santo Domingo West Mission. All of our missionaries are safe and accounted for, thanks for all of your love and support.


The Santo Domingo West Mission Office.

From a CNN article today:
7.0 quake hits Haiti; could be 'catastrophe,' official says
January 12, 2010 9:01 p.m. EST


Damage to presidential palace, hospital, homes, reports say Ambassador: Official in Haiti told me it's "catastrophe of major proportions" Earthquake struck just off coast of capital Port-au-Prince on Tuesday The Associated Press reported that a hospital had collapsed (CNN) --

A major earthquake struck southern Haiti on Tuesday, knocking down buildings and power lines and inflicting what its ambassador to the United States called a catastrophe for the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. "The only thing I can do now is pray and hope for the best," the ambassador, Raymond Alcide Joseph, told CNN.

Witnesses reported heavy damage throughout the capital, Port-au-Prince, including to the president's residence and century-old homes nearby, and The Associated Press reported that a hospital collapsed. President Rene Preval is safe, Joseph said, but there was no estimate of the dead and wounded Tuesday evening. The magnitude 7.0 quake struck about 10 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince shortly before 5 p.m. Joseph said one official of his government told him houses had crumbled "on the right side of the street and the left side of the street."

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The strongest earthquake in more than 200 years rocked Haiti on Tuesday, collapsing a hospital where people screamed for help and heavily damaging the National Palace, U.N. peacekeeper headquarters and other buildings. U.S. officials reported bodies in the streets and an aid official described "total disaster and chaos."

From Deseret News
United Nations officials said a large number of U.N. personnel were unaccounted for. 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.

"They reported structures down. They reported a lot of walls down. They did see a number of bodies in the street and on the sidewalk that had been hit by debris. So clearly, there's going to be serious loss of life in this," he said.

Frank Williams, the Haitian director of the relief agency World Vision International, said the quake left people "pretty much screaming" all around Port-au-Prince. He said the agency's building shook for about 35 seconds, "and portions of things on the building fell off."

"None of our staff were injured, but lots of walls are falling down," Williams said. "Many of our staff have tried to leave, but were unsuccessful because the walls from buildings and private residences are falling into the streets, so that it has pretty much blocked significantly most of the traffic."

More from CNN
Many of the homes in Port-au-Prince are concrete-block structures built on steep hillsides. Mike Godfrey, an American contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said "a huge plume of dust and smoke rose up over the city" within minutes of the quake -- "a blanket that completely covered the city and obscured it for about 20 minutes until the atmosphere dissipated the dust."

The quake was centered about 6 miles (10 kilometers) underground, according to the USGS. A magnitude 5.9 aftershock followed soon afterward, about 30 miles further west, followed by a 5.5 aftershock closer to the location of the first quake. When aftershocks hit, "there is a kind of wail as people are very frightened by it," Williams said. "But most people are out in the streets and just kind of looking up."

The Rev. Kesner Ajax, executive director of a school in the southwestern city of Les Cayes, said several people were hurt when they rushed to get out of the building. Two homes in the area collapsed and the top of a church collapsed in a nearby town, he said, but he did not know of any fatalities. Les Cayes, a city of about 400,000 people, is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince.

Jean Bernard, an eyewitness in Port-au-Prince, told CNN the city had no electricity Tuesday evening. The first quake lasted about 40 seconds, he said. "A lot of houses [and] buildings went down, and people are still running all over the streets," Bernard said. "People are looking for their wives, looking for their husbands and their kids. It's scary."

Luke Renner, an American staying in Cap-Hatien, a city nearly 100 miles north of Port-au-Prince, said he was sitting at his home when "the whole world started to shake." "It felt like our whole house was balancing on a beach ball," Renner said. "We heard the whole community screaming and in an uproar during that whole 20- to 30-second window." "I haven't seen any structural damage here," Renner continued. "With the sun setting it may be difficult to tell. In the morning we'll know for sure."

Because of the earthquake's proximity to the capital, and because the city is densely populated and has poorly constructed housing, "it could cause significant casualties," said Jian Lin, a senior geologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. A tsunami watch for Haiti, the Dominican Republic and parts of Cuba following the earthquake has been canceled, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

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