Dazed and injured Haitians sat on darkened streets pleading for help on Wednesday.
Untold thousands had died and many more were trapped in tons of rubble brought down by the strongest earthquake to hit this poor Caribbean nation in more than 200 years.
Destroyed communications made it impossible to tell the extent of destruction from Tuesday afternoon’s (early morning in India) 7.0-magnitude tremor, though the Red Cross said as many as 3 million people, a third of Haiti’s population, were affected.
Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said he was awaiting information about the fate of some 200 Indians on the island, including 141 CISF personnel involved in UN stabilisation mission. But an Indian Embassy spokesman in Cuba, which handles Haiti, said though the CISF residence was damaged “the contingent is reported to be safe.”
The Havana mission said there had been no contact with the Indian honorary consul in Haiti, businessman Eddy Handal, and the fate of as many as 100 more Indians was unknown.
In Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, the earthquake demolished slums as well as the fancy buildings of Petionville, a Port-au-Prince district that is home to many diplomats and wealthy Haitians, with equal ferocity. One reason for the strength of the shock was that the epicentre was only 16 km from the capital.
It was impossible to estimate the number of dead lying among thousands of collapsed buildings of Port-au-Prince. The ornate National Palace crumbled has crumbled, the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping mission has collapsed and swaths of rickety shacks lie in shambles.