The UK-based international development agency, Christian Aid, has launched a £1m emergency appeal (www.christianaid.org.uk/haiti-appeal ) for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Thousands of people 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 south-west of the capital Port-au-Prince just before 5pm local time yesterday and was followed by two strong aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5 shortly afterwards.
Launching the appeal, Dame Anne Owers, Chair of Christian Aid, said: "I visited Haiti in recent months with Christian Aid and was deeply concerned about the level of poverty there. It is one of the poorest places on earth."
She continued: "This latest disaster is going to cause untold suffering and hardship, particularly in communities with very little to fall back on. There is an urgent need for emergency supplies, including food, shelter and medicine."
"In the longer term, rebuilding is going to require massive international assistance. I appeal to people and to governments to give what they can."
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."
He added: "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 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 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 www.christianaid.org.uk/haiti-appeal