Scenes of horror, devastation in Port-au-Prince

PORT-AU-PRINCE, January 13, 2010 (AFP) – In just one terrifying minute the earth convulsed Tuesday in Haiti, flattening buildings and casually tossing chunks of twisted metal and concrete into the air. Thousands fled sobbing in terror and panic onto the streets of the capital Port-au-Prince, seeking to escape the fury of the 7.0 earthquake.

But hundreds are feared to have been killed in yet another tragedy to strike the impoverished Caribbean nation, which is still trying to recover from a series of 2008 hurricanes and storms.

“The center of Port-au-Prince has been destroyed, it’s a catastrophe,” wailed Pierre, covered in dust, and so shocked he could hardly speak as he surveyed the devastation around him, having walked several kilometers to find his house.

No corner of the city had been spared from the wave of destruction which unleashed its fury on the two million inhabitants for a full 60 seconds, witnesses said.

Many have been forced to abandon the ruins of their homes, and were squatting in sports grounds and open spaces. Few dared to return indoors, terrified of being buried in one of the huge aftershocks which continued to rock the nation.

“When we get an idea of the tol