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Haitian capital leveled by powerful earthquake

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January 13, 2010

Dazed and injured Haitians sat on darkened streets pleading for help Wednesday and untold numbers were trapped in tons of rubble brought down by the strongest earthquake to hit this poor Caribbean nation in more than 200 years.

Destroyed communications made it impossible to tell the extent of destruction from Tuesday afternoon’s 7.0-magnitude tremor — or to estimate the number of dead lying among thousands of collapsed buildings in Haiti’s capital of about 2 million people.

The ornate National Palace crumbled into itself, the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission collapsed and swaths of rickety shacks lay in shambles. Clouds of dust thrown up by falling buildings choked Port-au-Prince for hours.

The United States and other nations began organizing aid efforts, alerting search teams and gathering supplies that will be badly needed in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. The international Red Cross and other aid groups announced plans for major relief operations.

Associated Press journalists found the damage staggering even for a country long accustomed to tragedy and disaster.

Aftershocks rattled the city as women covered in dust clawed out of debris, wailing. Stunned people wandered the streets holding hands. Thousands gathered in public squares long after nightfall, singing hymns.

It was clear tens of thousands lost their homes and many perished in collapsed buildings flimsy and dangerous even under normal conditions.

“The hospitals cannot handle all these victims,” Dr. Louis-Gerard Gilles, a former senator, said as he helped survivors. “Haiti needs to pray. We all need to pray together.”

An Associated Press videographer saw a wrecked hospital where people screamed for help in Petionville, a hillside Port-au-Prince district that is home to many diplomats and wealthy Haitians as well as the poor.

At a destroyed four-story apartment building, a girl of about 16 stood atop a car, trying to peer inside while several men pulled at a foot sticking from rubble. The girl said her family was inside.

U.N. peacekeepers, most of whom are from Brazil, looked for survivors in the ruins of what had been their five-story headquarters. U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said late Tuesday that “as we speak no one has been rescued.”

Le Roy said many U.N. personnel were missing, including mission chief Hedi Annabi, who was in the building when the quake struck. Some 9,000 peacekeepers have been in Haiti since a 2004 rebellion ousted the president.

A state newspaper in China said eight Chinese peacekeepers serving in Haiti were known dead and 10 were missing — though officials later said the information was not confirmed. Jordan’s official news agency said three of its peacekeepers were killed and 21 others injured.

Much of the National Palace pancaked on itself, but Haiti’s ambassador to Mexico, Robert Manuel, said President Rene Preval and his wife survived the earthquake. He had no details.

The quake struck at 4:53 p.m., centered just 10 miles (15 kilometers) west of Port-au-Prince at a depth of only 5 miles (8 kilometers), the U.S. Geological Survey said. USGS geophysicist Kristin Marano called it the strongest earthquake since 1770 in what is now Haiti.

The temblor appeared to have occurred along a strike-slip fault, where one side of a vertical fault slips horizontally past the other, said Tom Jordan, a quake expert at the University of Southern California.

Most of Haiti’s 9 million people are desperately poor, and after years of political instability the country has no real construction standards. In November 2008, following the collapse of a school in Petionville, the mayor of Port-au-Prince estimated about 60 percent of buildings were shoddily built and unsafe in normal circumstances.

Tuesday’s quake was felt in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, but no major damage was reported there. In eastern Cuba, houses shook but no significant damage was reported.

With electricity knocked out in many places and phone service erratic, it was nearly impossible for Haitian or foreign officials to get full details of the devastation.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that U.S. Embassy personnel were “literally in the dark” after power failed.

“They reported structures down. They reported a lot of walls down. They did see a number of bodies in the street and on the sidewalk that had been hit by debris. So clearly, there’s going to be serious loss of life in this,” he said.

The Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut, said at least two Americans working at its Haitian aid mission were believed trapped in rubble.

“Everybody is just totally, totally freaked out and shaken,” said Henry Bahn, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official visiting Port-au-Prince. “The sky is just gray with dust.”

President Barack Obama offered prayers for the people of Haiti and said the U.S. stood ready to help. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. was offering full assistance — civilian and military — and a national organization of registered nurses called for nurse volunteers to provide care in Haiti.

Elizabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the U.N.’s humanitarian office, said it was working with independent aid agency Telecoms Sans Frontieres to get phone lines working again — a key element in organizing relief efforts.

Venezuela’s government said it would send a military plane with canned foods, medicine and drinking water and provide 50 rescue workers. Mexico, which suffered an earthquake in 1985 that killed some 10,000 people, planned to send doctors, search and rescue dogs and infrastructure damage experts.

Italy said it was sending a C-130 cargo plane Wednesday with a field hospital and emergency medical personnel as well as a team to assess aid needs. France said 65 clearing specialists, with six sniffer dogs, and two doctors and two nurses were leaving.

Edwidge Danticat, an award-winning Haitian-American author was unable to contact relatives in Haiti. She sat with family and friends at her home in Miami, looking for news on the Internet and watching TV news reports.

“You want to go there, but you just have to wait,” she said. “Life is already so fragile in Haiti, and to have this on such a massive scale, it’s unimaginable how the country will be able to recover from this.”

___

Associated Press videographer Pierre Richard Luxama in Haiti and AP writers David Koop and Olga R. Rodriguez in Mexico City; David McFadden and Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Matthew Lee in Washington; Alicia Chang in Los Angeles; Andrea Rodriguez in Havana; Tamara Lush in Tampa, Fla.; and Jennifer Kay and Christine Armario in Miami contributed to this report.

16 Responses to Haitian capital leveled by powerful earthquake

  1. keith

    January 13, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Sad.

    And I suppose the next thing we’ll be hearing is that this was all caused by global warming.

    Just like the natural heating and cooling of our planet has been going on for millennia, so, too, have major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions along Earth’s tectonic boundaries.  Indeed, over time, innumerable volcanoes located along those boundaries have spewed infinitely more “pollution” into our atmosphere than man has ever done.

    And while I well realize most citizens of Haiti are too poor to leave their earthquake-prone country, those who FREELY choose to live along our Earth’s tectonic boundaries shouldn’t be surprised when such massive disasters strike.

    It’s just one more reminder that the natural, cyclic forces on our planet are FAR more pervasive and powerful than man’s piddling ability to influence them one way or the other.

     

  2. twocanpete

    January 13, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Somebody get Brownie on the phone stat!

  3. giving-up-in-nc

    January 13, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I have pretty much given up on trying to convince the flat earthers that global climate change is real and human activity is the primary contributing factor.  But every so often someone like Keith comes along and makes some truly uninformed statements that I really can’t let slide.

    First off volcanic activity tends to cool the atmosphere not warm it.  Please refer to the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora and the 1816 year without a summer.

    Second we live on a beautiful planet that has had an amazing ability to overall keep things in balance and for the most part keep the planet quite habitable, especially for the past 10,000 years or so.  What we have been doing for the past 150 years or so is to put just enough man made CO2 on to one side of the atmospheric scale to make it start to tip. Picture a balance scale that has 1000 lbs of weight on both sides.  It quite happily stays in equilibrium.  Now slowly start adding a few ounces of weight to one of the sides.  And  keep adding it. Eventually it starts to tip.  It is that simple.  

    We do NOT need to add more emissions than all the volcanoes that have ever existed, or whatever, all we need to do is to add just enough crap into the atmosphere so that it pushes the planet beyond what it can absorb.  And that all that we have done.  Remember the bulk of the atmosphere is only about 7 miles think, that’s it.  We now have almost 7 billion people on this planet, burning things to keep warm, burning coal to make electricity, driving cars, motorcycles, flying in airplanes, and shipping worthless crap from one side of the planet to another on huge ships that burn diesel.  And all these things are pumping CO2 into 7 miles of atmosphere, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Where do you think all that CO2 is going?  Is the carbon fairy making it disappear and putting a quarter under our pillows?   Please wake up people!!

  4. griff

    January 13, 2010 at 10:18 am

    You’re joking, right? Uninformed statements? What the last ten thousand years shows is that climate fluctuations are natural cycles primarily caused by the earth’s rotational wobble, sun cycles and lunar magnetism.

    During the midieval warming cycle temperatures were much warmer and life fluorished. Ice core studies in the Antarctic show the rise in CO2 levels follow the warming trend as oceans warm and emit more CO2.

    The list of evidence of the fallacy of anthropogenic global warming is overwhelming and growing.

     

  5. giving-up-in-nc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Lunar magnetism? ROFLMAO!  I have to give you an internet point and laugh at.  Buddy you are talking to a life long amateur astronomer here. 

    In general solar cycles have only a minor affect on climate.  The exception to that was the Maunder Minimum where almost no sunspots were seen from 1645 to 1715 and the Earth COOLED!

    Link to the solar cycles effect on weather and climate.

    http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/sun/sun_climate.html

     “For more than 100 years, scientists have wondered if cycles on the Sun and changes of the energy received at Earth because of those cycles affect weather or global climate on Earth. It is now thought that solar cycles on the Sun don’t affect weather, but that they do have a very slight effect on global climate.

    Link to Lunar magntisim

    http://sciencereview.berkeley.edu/articles.php?issue=6&article=briefs_1

    “Unlike Earth–and almost all of the other planets in the solar system–the Moon has no measurable global magnetic field.”

    The wobble of the earth is part of the Milankovitch cycle with can have major effects on the climate, like ice ages but it occurs over very long periods of time, not the short periods of time we are seeing with the current changes.  

    I could also go into the steady rise in the green house gas CO2 that is being observed all over the world but what’s the point?  You have a false view of the world that you lapped up from big oils PR machine, and no facts that I present to you can change that.

    The only evidence against global climate change is the stuff manufactured by big oil.  One thing a life of following science gave me is the ability to think critically and to cut through Public Relations B/S.”

    The fact that changes in climate before humans existed preclude the ability of human activity from changing the climate is a complete failure of reason.  Thats like saying that species have gone extinct before humans existed so extinctions can only occur naturally and not by human activity.  Tell that to the passenger pigeon and the Dodo bird. 

    Now I took the time to provide anyone that reads this thread with facts, references and logic to my side of the argument .  You provided opinion, false reasoning, and public relations B/S. 

    I am getting SO TIRED of what repeatedly comes down to mentally shooting fish in a barrel.

     

  6. griff

    January 13, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    So what exactly does amateur astronomy have to do with climate study? That’s like asking an amateur blacksmith to change the brakes on my car.  

    But actually you are correct in that I misspoke about lunar magnetism. Although the moon’s magnetic pull does have an affect on tides, it is solar magnetism that affects climate. Gee, what do you know, there’s the sun again.

    http://www.weatheraction.com/pages/pv.asp?p=wact1&fsize=0

    I wish I had more time to dodge your mental bullets, but Wednesday’s are a busy day for me. Some other time, yes?

    In the meantime, I’ll leave you with an excerpt from one of those government-funded “climate scientist’s” e-mail concerning solar influence on weather and climate…

    “Attachment 4 shows the original Sydney data overlaid against the 11-year periodicity. It would appear that the solar cycle does indeed affect temperature.”

    There’s about 1100 more where that came from.

    Regarding flat-earthers, I would say that AGW believers such as yourself are the new flat-earthers. Back in the day, the scientific and political minds of the day believed the earth was flat while a small minority believed it to be round. After much persecution the truth was finally revealed and the persecuted minority was vindicated.

    I’m afraid that nowadays you find yourslef among the minority view as people awaken to the fraud being perpetrated by politicians and their cohorts in the scientific community.

    Perhaps it is time that you give it up. No one’s buying it any more.  

     

  7. keith

    January 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks for the support, Griff!

    If humans are the sole cause of “global warming”, perhaps our friend would now care to tell us how ancient tropical sea fossils wind up in rocks that also show clear evidence of continental glaciation.

    I’ve always found it comical how Al Gore and his minions continue to trumpet irrefutable, “scientific evidence” (via their own global climate models) that we humans are the principal cause of the latest bout of “global warming”.  But yet, even using their most sophisticated observational equipment and computer models, the worlds best weather forecasters seem to still only be able to give us a reliable local weather forecast three days into the future.  And, even then, they only manage to get it right about half the time! 

    There is  also a growing body of evidence to suggest that our Sun has not in the past (and still does not) give our planet a uniform “heat bath”.  I know this to be true, because I work in the satellite industry and we are always concerned about the cyclic heating and cooling (and hence expansion and contraction) of the upper atmosphere and its drag effect on orbiting satellites.  There is also some evidence to suggest that this observed cyclic heating and cooling of our atmosphere may also be related in some way to the 11-year sunspot cycle.

    But, even without looking at what’s going on in the atmosphere, the fossil and geomorphologic record remains absolutely chockablock full of replicable evidence of cyclic climate change throughout millennia.  Indeed,  in terms of geologic time, our planet is STILL emerging from the latest (Pleistocene era) ice age that ended just 10,000 years ago.

    So, even IF what we have been observing over the last 100-200 years or so IS a warming trend on our planet, for Al Gore and his myopic followers to now make the leap that man is the SOLE cause of that “warming” is just BS.  Indeed, such nonsense has everything to do with obtaining or keeping one’s university research grants (from like-minded zealots) intact rather than shedding objective light on what’s really happening.

    The truth is that nobody…NOBODY…has yet been able to develop a global climate model that is not also based on REAMS of assumptions.  And, depending on which way you skew those assumptions, one can manipulate that data (and the information the resulting model produces) any way you please.

    In the meantime, I’m headed out the door to shovel several more inches of “global warming” that’s recently fallen in my driveway.

    Wish me luck.

  8. Carl Nemo

    January 14, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Hi Griff et al.,

    “Although the moon’s magnetic pull does have an affect on tides” … extract from post

    Ordinarily I wouldn’t do so, but you should drop the word “magnetic” and use the words/phrase “mass does have…” or “gravitational pull…”. The moon’s negligible magnetism has no effect on the earth other than when it’s in line with the sun it can alter the shape of the mutual fields both sun and earth due to its presence no differently than a”keeper bar” on a shoe magnet although of minor consequence.

    I’m also providing a seminal link concerning the real link between atmospheric CO2 and that which is stored within earth’s oceans. Our oceans store a massive amount of carbon and it’s the ocean currents that play a huge role in recirculating this carbon between the oceans and the atmosphere. It’s a cycle that acts like a huge conveyor belt known as Thermohaline Circulation or THHC or geophysical oscillator. As the oceans warm they release evermore CO2 and as warm currents cool down to optimum absorption termperatures they begin to store evermore CO2 plunging to the depths. So as the sun warms the oceans more CO2 is released. As the warming earth cause more glacial melt of the Greenland icecap more cold water is supplied to the oceans, plunging to the depths with the ability to store evermore carbon in the form of dissolved CO2 causing the cycle to throttle back.

    http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com/2006/10/co2_acquittal.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermohaline

    During the past several hundred million years the worlds ocean currents have been changed ending up with currents within the Atlantic and Pacific basin along with the massive circumpolar current at the South polar region. The reason for the change is due to continental blockage as a function of drift. It is good that it is this way because once the continents change position and open larger regions for currents with a large uninterrupted fetch then we will move into another global ice age. CO2 is not the cause of global warming, but the result of solar warming which is the power supply that drives THHC which will determine the outcome concerning the warming and cooling of the planet.

    Note: It takes 1600 years for the Pacific and Atlantic oceans to balance atmospheric gases as a function of the THHC.

    Carl Nemo **==

     

  9. giving-up-in-nc

    January 14, 2010 at 11:02 am

     

    Keith and griff you need to get your talking points straight before you post.   Keith says that we can only reliable forecast weather a few days out then griff points me to weatheraction.com  that says they can forecast weather months out.  Please discuss this amongst  yourselves and get back to me.

    So griff it appears that keith has discredited the source you just gave.  

    The fact that Keith mentioned Al Gore just flushed him out has a right wing hack.  Standard meaningless talking point completely pointless, it adds NOTHING to the discussion.  Also please note that I never mentioned Gore or used him has a reference.

    The fact that you guys think there is vast scientific conspiracy shows that you don’t understand how science works.  Pier review will flush out fraudulent claims pretty quickly.

    Now on the other hand a much more plausible argument for the raging “debate” around climate change is that large corporations want the status quo to continue because the are making big bucks on it.   Now I have seen this time and time again.  Lobbyists are proof of this.  Here is a link to an article showing that Exxon Mobil continues to fund groups that publish misleading and inaccurate information about climate change.

     http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/01/exxon-mobil-climate-change-sceptics-funding

    Big oil knows they don’t have to win the argument, they just have to muddy it up so nothing gets done about it.  Now guys I am your worse enemy in this argument because I have  MEMORY.  I clearly remember not that many years ago your argument was there was no such thing as climate change.   Then once that was shown to be false, the argument changed to; the climate was changing but it was a natural change not caused by man.   Now the argument is morphing again to, climate change is real, man is causing it, but it’s too late to do anything about it so party on!   That will be your guys talking point within 5 years.  I guarantee it!

    OK guys now I will give you a chance to really shine.  Here is a chart showing the rise in CO2 over the last roughly 50 years.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/co2_data_mlo.html

    It shows CO2 rising at a very steady rate from under 320 ppm to almost 390 now.  Nice steady rise of about 30 degrees or so.

    The chart is a FACT

    CO2 is a green house gas,  FACT.

    So please explain to me what is causing this nice steady rise?  It can’t be volcanos.  They have been erupting for billions of years? Plus eruptions would show as spikes in the graph.  If it is not us causing the rise, and it is natural then if you follow the slope of the graph backwards then CO2 in the atmosphere would be 0 somewhere around 400 years ago.  We know that isn’t true.

    So if we are not the source of the very STEADY rise in CO2 then please explain what the natural source is?

    Thank you.


     

  10. giving-up-in-nc

    January 14, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Here you go. Check out realclimate.org  It is a site dedicated to climate science run by climate scientists. (what a concept!)  You can search out all the references to the fact that the oceans have absorbed a fair percentage of what we have been pumping into the air but that may be coming to an end.

     

  11. griff

    January 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

    You’re kidding again, right? Isn’t that the site that’s run by the same scientists that have just been caught fudging and cherry-picking the data, manipulating the climate models using programming tricks, controlling the peer-review process, abandoning the scientific method, and overall chicanery?

    I believe it is.  

  12. griff

    January 14, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Again, it’s the sun. Just like it was for millions of years before SUV’s.

  13. Carl Nemo

    January 14, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks for the link giving-up-in-nc.  I’ll check it out later today. 

    Carl Nemo **==

  14. giving-up-in-nc

    January 15, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Do you honestly think that a small group of scientists could fool most of the worlds, governments, scientists, news papers, and televisions stations, citizens…?

    Seriously giff I think your B/S meter is sadly broken.

  15. griff

    January 15, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Actually, yes. But over this past summer more than 31,000 independent scientists sent a letter to the Congress disputing this theory. Not only that, but several scientists’ names were added to the IPCC panel without their consent and were later asked to be removed.

    Al Gore refused to testify before the Congress if he was forced to share the stage with some one that disagrees with this. And of course, the Congress obliged.

    If you were interested in truth over propaganda, I would suggest reading the e-mails and associated documents pertaining to what the media has termed “climategate.”

    My B/S meter is finely tuned and in good working condition, but thanks for your concern.

    And frankly, for some one that opened this conversation by saying that you’ve given up on trying to convince others to join this religion, you’re putting plenty of effort into trying to convince me.

    I can assure you that you are indeed wasting your time. I do not believe it and I never will. End of story. And to imply that I don’t believe this is because I’m somehow less educated or less intelligent than yourself is exactly the kind of elitist thinking that I despise. 

  16. Carl Nemo

    January 13, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    This area of the Carribean has suffered major earthquakes of equal or greater magnitude in the past 300 years the most recent in 1907 until the current one in Haiti. 

    On June 7, 1692 at 11:43 am, Port Royal, Jamaica was struck by an estimated 8.0 + earthquake which sunk two thirds of the city.  Underwater archeologists discovered clocks of that era stopped at that  time.  Today the former city of Port Royal lays under 25 feet of ocean water. 

    Port Royal was a watering hole for 17th century pirates and was considered the most evil  city on earth in that time.  Mind-blowing debauchery was engaged by the pirates and interlopers who visited the port city.

    Jamaica is due West of Haiti. 

    So this current quake is just another example of ol’ Mother Earth rolling over in the sack and dragging the sheets; ie., the earths crust along with her.  Mankind the equivalent of “bedbugs” went along for the ride.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Royal

    Carl Nemo **==