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Earthquake Strikes Léogâne and Port-au-Prince, Haiti

18.5N 72.3W

January 21st, 2010 Category: Earthquakes

Haiti - January 19th, 2010

Haiti - January 19th, 2010

A major earthquake struck southern Haiti on Tuesday, January 12th, 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 2010 Haitian earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake. Its epicentre was near Léogâne, approximately 25 km (16 miles) west of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Port-au-Prince can be seen along the shores of the Port-au-Prince Bay near the center of this orthorectified image, taken one week after the catastrophe.

The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time (21:53 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010, at a depth of 13 km (8.1 miles). The United States Geological Survey recorded a series of at least 33 aftershocks, 14 of which were between magnitudes 5.0 and 5.9.

The International Red Cross estimated that about three million people were affected by the quake; the Haitian Interior Minister, Paul Antoine Bien-Aimé, anticipated on 15 January that the disaster would claim between 100,000 and 200,000 lives. Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive announced that by 18 January over 70,000 bodies had been buried in mass graves.

The earthquake caused major damage to Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area. Many notable landmark buildings were significantly damaged or destroyed, including the Presidential Palace (President René Préval survived), the National Assembly building, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, and the main jail. The headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), located in the capital, collapsed and the Mission’s Chief, Hédi Annabi, his deputy, Luiz Carlos da Costa, and the acting police commissioner were confirmed dead.

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