A 7.0 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Haiti, Causing Severe Damage

The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake that occurred approximately 10 miles (16 km) from Port-au-Prince, Haiti at 4:53:09 PM local time (21:53:09 UTC) on Tuesday 12 January 2010.

The earthquake occurred at a depth of 6.2 miles (10.0 km). The United States Geological Survey recorded a series of aftershocks, ten of them above magnitude 5.0, including ones measuring 5.9 and 5.5.

Most of Port-au-Prince's major landmarks have been damaged in the earthquake, including the National Presidential Palace of Haiti, the National Assembly building, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral and at least one hospital. The United Nations reported that headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, located in the capital, sustained serious damage and that a large number of UN personnel were unaccounted for.

(CNN) -- A major earthquake struck southern Haiti on Tuesday, knocking down buildings and power lines and inflicting new misery on the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.

Several witnesses reported heavy damage and bodies in the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where concrete-block homes line the steep hillsides leading inland from the waterfront.

No estimate of the dead and wounded was given Tuesday evening, but the U.S. State Department had been told to expect "serious loss of life," spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington.

"The only thing I can do now is pray and hope for the best," the Haitian ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, told CNN.

Radio and television host Carel Pedre was driving home from work when the earth began shaking. He said he saw "a lot of people falling down and they were crying, crying, crying for help."