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Haiti hit by a massive earthquake, death toll expected to be high

SEE HAITI EMERGENCY RELIEF APPEAL

An earthquake of the magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale hit Haiti on Tuesday evening, destroying many buildings and killing hundreds, possibly thousands of people. The epicenter of the quake was just 10 kilometres from the capital Port-au-Prince.

Sponsorship sites in HaitiThe massive earthquake cut off power supplies, and thousands gathered in the blacked-out roads as powerful aftershocks continued well into the night. Many are now trying to dig the victims out of the rubble with whatever tools they can find. Communication lines are also down, satellite phones are the only way of talking to people on the ground.  The main UN building in Port-au-Prince has also collapsed, and although pledges for immediate assistance have been made by the United States, the World Bank and many others, it is not known at present how a recovery will be organised.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and has a long history of suffering destructive natural disasters and political turmoil. SOS Children's Villages has been very well set up in Haiti for many years and will do everything in its power to help those who need assistance most urgently, with a special focus on the children. Due to the total breakdown of communication lines, the extent to which SOS Children's Villages in Haiti have been affected is not known at this point, but there is no doubt that immediate aid as well as long-term support will require a large amount of funds.

The National SOS Children's Village Association of Haiti was founded in 1979; the first SOS Children's Village in Petite Place Cazeau, eight kilometres from Port-au-Prince, was completed in 1982. At present there are two SOS Children's Villages in Haiti, two SOS Youth Homes, two SOS Schools, one SOS Vocational Training Centre and four SOS Social Centres. Some 570 children and young people are currently being cared for in SOS facilities, and more than 2,600 people receive support through our Family Strengthening Programmes.

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