A devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake has hit Haiti, including the densely populated capital Port-Au-Prince and the surrounding area. Although there is as yet no accurate assessment of the death toll it is clear that millions of people live in the affected area. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, greatly increasing the risk that people will suffer or die in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Communications have been severely disrupted and many roads are blocked with rubble. Despite the challenges, many DEC member agencies are already helping on the ground while others are preparing to do so. Very substantial humanitarian assistance will be required to ensure survivors get food, clean water, emergency shelter, medical care and other support.
The Disasters Emergency Committee is urgently assessing the situation against its criteria for launching an appeal.