Five hundred thousand feared dead in Haiti earthquake

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Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Jan. 14 (ANI): Nearly five hundred thousand are feared to be dead in Haiti after a grade 7.0-magnitude quake struck the impoverished country's capital on Tuesday afternoon.

A major international relief effort was launched to hurry rescuers and suppliers to the Caribbean country as the streets of Port-au-Prince were left scattered with corpses and shattered buildings, The Telegraph reports.

Hospitals and schools collapsed and were reportedly full of dead while 200 foreigners were missing from the city's expensive Hotel Montana.

The whereabouts of almost 200 United Nations staff in the city are yet to be ascertained including the civilian head of mission, Hedi Annabi of Tunisia.

The city's Catholic archbishop, Monsignor Serge Miot, was a confirmed casualty, as his body was pulled from the rubble of his offices.

Haitian President Rene Preval, whose palace was substantially destroyed, described the scene in his capital as "unimaginable".

He said he had been stepping over the bodies of the dead and hearing the cries of the trapped underneath his country's collapsed parliament building.

The country's Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, said the government believed the death toll in the city of two million people was "well over 100,000" while Youri Latortue, a senior senator, said it could be 500,000.

Both admitted they had no way of knowing but aid workers on the scene reported widespread destruction and suffering as severely injured people lay in the streets, unable to get medical assistance.

Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, was already struggling to recover from a series of severe hurricanes and flooding in 2008.

The country sits on a major fault line and scientists have warned for years that it was likely to be hit by a major earthquake. (ANI)

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