A major earthquake has hit Haiti, collapsing numerous buildings, including the presidential palace. "I think it is really a catastrophe of major proportions," Raymond Joseph, the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, told CNN from the capital Port-au-Prince.
Also in Port-au-Prince, there is a tsunami alert for the region after the earthquake hit at 9:53 GMT. It is the largest earthquake to hit the country since 1984. The vibrations lasted for more than a full minute and were felt as far away as Cuba.
Upon hearing about the earthquake in Haiti, President Barack Obama issued this statement:
"My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by this earthquake. We are closely monitoring the situation and we stand ready to assist the people of Haiti."
The magnitude 7.0 earthquake is the latest disaster of an impoverished nation. Appeals for aid quickly flooded out from the global community: "I'm calling on all friends of Haiti and people who are listening to me to please come to our aid," said Raymond Joseph, Haitian ambassador to the United States told CNN's Wolf Blitzer by telephone.
Singer Wyclef Jean, nephew of Ambassador Joseph, also reminded the world of the need to help the people of Haiti. "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."
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