Christian Aid has launched a £1m emergency appeal for victims of the Haiti earthquake, after its own office in the country was destroyed.
The international development NGO's office collapsed and three people, including Christian Aid staff, were rescued from the rubble.
All from Christian Aid are believed to be safe but communications to the country are very difficult since the city is without electricity and the telephone network has broken down.
Thousands of others, however, are already feared dead and many more are believed to be critically injured. Countless numbers are thought to be homeless.
The quake, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, struck 15km southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince just before 5pm local time yesterday, and was shortly followed by two strong aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5.
Nick Guttman, head of Christian Aid’s humanitarian division, said today: "The situation in Haiti is very, very serious due to the strength and shallowness of the earthquake and its proximity to the capital Port-au-Prince.
"Most of the buildings and infrastructure in Haiti are very fragile. Many people have been killed by falling debris and there are still many more trapped under the rubble, in desperate need of assistance.
"Hundreds of offices, hotels, houses and shops have collapsed, the presidential palace lies in ruins and many churches have also been completely destroyed.
"The Christian Aid office itself has also collapsed and three people, including Christian Aid staff, had to be rescued from the rubble. Thankfully, they are safe but communications to the country are very difficult since the city is without electricity and the telephone network has broken down.
"The absolutely critical humanitarian needs now are obviously search and rescue, much of which is initially being carried out by local people and organisations, shelter, clean water and medical assistance.’
Christian Aid’s Caribbean Regional Manager Judith Turbyne said the Christian Aid building was relatively robust but was still destroyed. Loss of life in poorer communities is expected to be very high.
"One of the key issues in Haiti is the weak state and the lack of resources at the state’s disposal," she said.
"There will be a national response, but it is unlikely to be sufficient. There will be a huge need for a concerted response on behalf of the relatively large aid community in Haiti."
Christian Aid partner organisations in Haiti, Veterimed and Koral, are very experienced in emergency response work and will be working round the clock to meet the urgent humanitarian needs.
Those wishing to donate on on-line should go to http://www.christianaid.org.uk/haiti-appeal