Powerful Earthquake Strikes Haiti, Lutheran World Relief Responding

Jan 13, 2010, 15:01 ET from Lutheran World Relief

BALTIMORE, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the small island nation of Haiti on the evening of January 12, the worst earthquake to strike the region in more than 200 years. Thousands are feared dead; the quake's epicenter was located just 10 miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

"As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the people of Haiti will desperately need the help of the international community in the wake of this horrifying disaster," says Trevor Knoblich, LWR's Program Coordinator for Emergency Response. "A large response will be needed to even begin helping the people of Haiti," he adds.

Throughout the night and into the morning, powerful aftershocks, some as strong as 5.9 magnitude, continued. The initial quake toppled the presidential palace and destroyed the shanty homes where most Haitians live. Their homes destroyed, people are in the streets with nowhere to go.

The greatest damage appears to be concentrated in Port-au-Prince, where critical services, such as electricity, water and phone services, are severely affected. Access to the capital city is limited due to debris and other obstacles on the roads. Reports of injuries and death tolls are still unknown because of communications problems; however, early indications suggest a large number of causalities and extensive damage.

Haiti, by virtue of its location and its overwhelming poverty, is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. Before the earthquake, people were still struggling to recover from the devastation caused by a succession of tropical storms that struck Haiti in 2008, killing hundreds, causing floods, destroying crops and leaving thousands homeless. Lutheran World Relief has supported that on-going recovery effort in partnership with World Neighbors.

Lutheran World Relief will provide life-saving assistance in response to the earthquake in Haiti. Details of the emergency response will made available as we learn more about the immediate needs on the ground. Lutheran World Relief is currently accepting donations for this response.

Lutheran World Relief president John Nunes adds, "We ask that you pray for the people of Haiti and for our local partners on the ground with whom we have lost contact. Lutheran World Relief will work expeditiously to put your prayers and gifts to work to save lives in Haiti."

Donations to the Haiti Earthquake fund can be made by phone at 800-LWR-LWR-2, online at lwr.org, or by mailing a check or money order to Lutheran World Relief Haiti Earthquake Relief, P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21298-9832.

WHO IS LWR? Lutheran World Relief, an international nonprofit organization, works to end poverty and injustice by empowering some of the world's most impoverished communities to help themselves. With partners in 35 countries, LWR seeks to promote sustainable development with justice and dignity by helping communities bring about change for healthy, safe and secure lives; engage in Fair Trade; promote peace and reconciliation; and respond to emergencies. LWR is headquartered in Baltimore, MD, and has worked in international development and relief since 1945.

SOURCE Lutheran World Relief