78 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day
We are all Human and one people please help Haitian people by donating at http://yele.org/Appeals for aid quickly flooded out to the international community on Tuesday after a major earthquake struck Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.
"I'm calling on all friends of Haiti and people who are listening to me to please come to our aid," said Raymond Joseph, Haiti's ambassador to the U.S. told CNN's Wolf Blitzer by telephone.
The magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck southern Haiti on Tuesday, knocking down buildings and inflicting a new catastrophe on the impoverished Caribbean nation, its ambassador to the United States said.
"Today as Haiti is going through the worst day in its history I am calling for all others who got help from us in the beginning to help in support," Joseph said. "The only thing I can do now is pray and hope for the best."
The quake struck about 15 km (10 miles) southwest of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince shortly before 5 p.m. Joseph said he had little information about the extent of damage from the quake, but one government official -- the only one he was able to reach -- told him houses had crumbled "on the right side of the street and the left side of the street."
E-mail was the sole means of communication for many.
"Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS...," wrote Dr. Louise Ivers from Port-au-Prince, in an e-mail to the group's offices in Boston, Massachusetts. The clinical director of Partners In Health, which operates nine hospitals and health centers for poor people in Haiti, added: "Temporary field hospital ... needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us."
Singer Wyclef Jean, nephew of ambassador Joseph, stressed the need for help for what is considered the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
"We're going to need immediate aid," Jean told Blitzer on CNN. "We're going to need the United States and the international community to react immediately." He founded Yele Haiti, whose community service programs include food distribution and emergency relief.
In Washington U.S. President Barack Obama said the government would "stand ready to assist the people of Haiti."
At the Pentagon, the U.S. military said humanitarian aid was being prepared for shipping, but it was not yet clear where or how it would be sent. A U.S. aviation source said the control tower at the Port-au-Prince international airport collapsed, possibly hindering efforts to fly relief supplies into the country.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that Washington is offering "our full assistance" to Haiti. "And our prayers are with the people who have suffered, their families and their loved ones," she said. The deputy chief of the U.S. mission in Haiti, David Lindwall, told Clinton that he saw "significant damage" from the quake and said U.S. officials there expect "serious loss of life," Crowley said.
And Clinton's husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton -- now the U.N. special envoy for Haiti -- said the world body was "committed to do whatever we can to assist the people of Haiti in their relief, rebuilding and recovery efforts."
Haiti's government is backed by a U.N. peacekeeping mission established after the ouster of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.
The United States has been heavily involved in Haiti commercially, politically and militarily for most of the last century. U.S. intervention under Clinton restored Aristide to power in 1994 after a 1991 coup, and a U.S. jet hustled him out of the country again in 2004 following a rapidly spreading uprising against his government.
With people stripping the trees for fuel and to clear land for agriculture, the mountainous countryside has been heavily deforested. That has led to severe erosion and left Haitians vulnerable to massive landslides when heavy rains fall.
Roads in Haiti were unsafe to travel on because of a lack of lighting and because many buildings along transportation routes had collapsed or were not deemed safe, said Ian Rodgers of the relief organization Save the Children.
"What I can hear is very distressed people," Rogers said. "There is a lot of distress and wailing of people trying to find loved ones."
A representative for the aid group Catholic Relief Services in Haiti described the situation in the nation as "a total disaster," said Robyn Fieser, regional information officer for the group.
Haiti's dense population will increase the risk to its people, Jean said. The nation's need for aid will range from water and food to medical and building supplies.
"This is the worst devastation that we as Haitian people have faced," he said.
Hurricane Gordon killed more than 1,000 people in 1994, while Hurricane Georges killed more than 400 and destroyed the majority of the country's crops in 1998. And in 2004, Hurricane Jeanne killed more than 3,000 people even as it passed north of Haiti, with most of the deaths in the northwestern city of Gonaives.
Gonaives was hit heavily again in 2008 when four tropical systems passed through.
According to the U.N. Office for the Special Envoy for Haiti, unemployment reaches 70 percent nationally, and 78 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day.
How you can help:
• International Medical Corps
• Direct Relief International
• World Vision
• International Relief Teams
• Yéle Haiti
• American Red Cross
• Operation USA
• Catholic Relief Services
• World Food Programme
• World Concern
• Save the Children
• UNICEF USA
• More ways to help victims of NATURAL DISASTERS