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Thousands in Haiti capital's streets amid death, destruction

world Updated: Jan 14, 2010 12:54 IST
IANS/EFE
IANS/EFE
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Thousands of people awoke in the streets of Port-au-Prince, where they spent the night amid the death and destruction wrought by the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti, shattering buildings and leaving untold numbers of people dead or trapped in the rubble.

"The night of Jan 12-13 was undoubtedly the longest night for Haitians battered by a terrible earthquake that has left huge numbers of victims and extensive damage," the Haiti Press Network website reported on Wednesday.

Some Haitian websites, which were knocked offline by the earthquake, began posting fresh reports on Wednesday.

Thousands of people slept or wandered around Port-au-Prince's streets, which "have served as a refuge for the capital's residents, who fled from their ruined homes" after the quake, Haiti Press Network said.

The temblor struck at 4.53 p.m. (2153 GMT) on Tuesday and its epicentre was about 15 km southwest of the Haitian capital. The initial quake was followed by three aftershocks, including one of magnitude 5.9.

Both Haiti Press Network and Radio Metropole reported that bodies are lying in Port-au-Prince's streets and buildings sustained tremendous damage.

Neither media outlet provided official or unofficial casualty figures.

The earthquake knocked out both landline and mobile telephone service in Port-au-Prince, a US State Department spokesman told EFE, while a Dominican government press officer said reports had reached Santo Domingo of "great damage" in the neighbouring country.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the UN and the international community were facing a major humanitarian catastrophe in Haiti.

The fate of some 100 peacekeepers and other personnel at the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH, headquarters, which collapsed, is not known, and UNESCO said 14 of its workers are missing.

Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Serge Miot was killed in the powerful earthquake, which levelled the Haitian capital's cathedral, the Catholic news agency Misna reported.

The 61-year-old Miot's body was found in the rubble of the archbishopric, which collapsed, Misna said.

Zilda Arns Neumman, a Brazilian missionary who founded and ran a group that assisted children, also died in the earthquake, Brazilian officials said.

Arns was walking down a street with two Brazilian soldiers from the UN peackeeping force and was apparently hit by something, Brazilian Cabinet chief Gilberto Carvalho said.

Aid offers and shipments are pouring in from countries across the world.