A 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti at approximately 4:53 p.m. EDT Tuesday has left the Caribbean nation in shambles as rescuers scramble to save lives. Some reports indicate the death toll could be in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. (Haiti's population is nearly 10 million.) Track up to the minute developments below as news unfolds and follow CBSNews.com'scomplete coverage:
10:13 p.m. EST: Please switch over to Day Three of our ongoing Haitian earthquake coverage in blog form. We're going to start posting updates there now.
9:41 p.m. EST: Google has posted a satellite image taken after the earthquake (unfortunately, it's not high-resolution). They do say, however, that they're working with partner GeoEye to update Google Earth with post-earthquake images. And Google has given raw map data to the United Nations to aid in earthquake relief efforts.
9:31 p.m. EST: Evacuation Update: The State Department says that at least 66 Americans have gathered in the American embassy; also, approximately 160 Americans are at the Port-au-Prince airport waiting for the C-130 cargo planes to extract them from the earthquake-ravaged island.
9:19 p.m. EST: The United Nations has confirmed that 16 of its workers in Haiti died in the earthquake. As many as 150 workers have not yet been located.
9:14 p.m. EST: Richard Morse runs the Oloffson Hotel Port-au-Prince Haiti and is a member of the Haitian band RAM. He's also, fortunately, been able to update his "RAMhaiti" Twitter account frequently since the earthquake. Some of his updates from Wednesday: "Night has fallen..the night seems to take so long..I guess those that are buried alive in the rubble are feeling it the worst." And: The praying and singing has quieted down..people are outdoors waiting patiently for….whatever's next." And: "all my guests slept in the driveway last night..people came up from the streets thinking they were bodies.. neighbors helping neighbors." And: "The St Gerard Church has a school behind it that collapsed.I heard someone speaking from the rubble, feet were trapped he couldn't get out."
8:56 p.m. EST: Televangelist Pat Robertson on Wednesday called the quake, which may have killed as many as 500,000 Haitians, a "blessing in disguise" because it could lead to a rebuilding of the nation. No word yet on whether the innumerable widowed and orphaned Haitians agree with the 700 Club host, who said a few years ago that the severe illness of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was divine retribution for his views on Palestine. Robertson also said on Wednesday that the Haitian people's ancestors once "swore a pact with the devil" to rid themselves of the French, which has caused them to be "cursed" ever since.
8:43 p.m. EST: 60 Minutes' Stephanie Palewski sends along an update about the group from Boca Raton's Lynn University who were in Haiti when the earthquake hit (see our earlier piece). Of the 12 students and two teachers who were in the country as part of a January term course, seven students are now accounted for and are in the U.S. Embassy. Here's a pre-earthquake photo of the group.
8:36 p.m. EST: The U.S. Coast Guard has just announced that two C-130 Hercules cargo planes from Clearwater, Fla. are evacuating nearly 140 U.S. personnel from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. Nine people who are critically injured were taken to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Coast Guard Cutter Forward arrived in Haiti on Wednesday morning and reported oil spills, fuel spills, possible sewage spills, and multiple small fires along the shoreline and serious damage to the port. More C-130 planes, other Coast Guard cutters, and at least three Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters are part of the relief efforts too.
8:33 p.m. EST: The U.S. Southern Command has reportedly confirmed that a C-130 plane carrying part of a military assessment team has landed in Haiti.
8:25 p.m. EST: We've heard from CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier at the Pentagon that the USS Higgins -- a guided-missile destroyer with a helicopter flight deck that could be used for refueling -- will arrive Haiti on Thursday morning. The carrier USS Vinson with five helicopters on board, plus up to eight that may be added en route, is due to arrive Friday morning.
The deployment of the 2,200-man 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit is subject to the secretary of defense signing what's known as an "execution order," or ExOrd. Once that happens, according to a second defense official, these ships are expected to be added: the USS McHenry amphibious assault ship, which would leave Norfolk Friday and arrive on January 20; the USS Bataan amphibious assault ship (which would carry the Marine expeditionary unit) with the same schedule; and the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship that would leave Baltimore on Sunday and arrive about five days later. We have more details in this Evening News report.
8:05 p.m. EST: U.S. government relief efforts to aid Haiti would normally rely heavily on the country's seaport. But it appears to be damaged, with port cranes in Port-au-Prince knocked into the water. "We've been advised by U.S. military's Southern Command that a good portion of the pier has been destroyed," said Jay Brickman, vice president of government services for Crowley Maritime, which operates regular cargo service to Port-au-Prince from Port Everglades, according to the Miami Herald. And the Washington Post quotes U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. James A. "Jim" Watson IV, director of Atlantic area operations, as saying: "If the port is severely damaged, that makes it very, very difficult" to deliver supplies.
8:01 p.m. EST: The Federal Communications Commission has lifted a rule to allow non-commercial stations to raise funds for Haitian earthquake victims. Usually they're allowed to raise funds only for themselves. Here's the statement from the FCC.
7:56 p.m. EST: The non-profit group Doctors Without Borders, also known as M?decins Sans Fronti?res, has posted a report saying that that most of Port-au-Prince's medical facilities have been damaged and tent clinics have been set up. One of the group's staff, Stefano Zannini, says: "The situation is chaotic. I visited five medical centers, including a major hospital, and most of them were not functioning. Many are damaged and I saw a distressing number of dead bodies. Some parts of the city are without electricity and people have gathered outside, lighting fires in the street and trying to help and comfort each other."
7:49 p.m. EST: The Vatican's representative in Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, describes the situation: "Port-au-Prince is totally devastated. The cathedral, the archbishop's office, all of the big churches, all of the seminaries have been reduced to rubble… Parliament with the senators, the schools with the children, the supermarkets were reduced to nothing… (A religious institute) collapsed with students inside that were participating in a conference."
7:45 p.m. EST: The Boston Globe's "Big Picture" section now features 48 photos of the earthquake's aftermath. The images -- nearly 1,000 pixels wide each -- are horrifying. The more we learn, the worse the situation seems to become.
7:36 p.m. EST: Haiti's earthquake was 7.0 on the Richter Scale. To put it in perspective, so was the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, known to locals as the Loma Prieta earthquake, which took place over 50 miles from San Francisco but nevertheless managed to render uninhabitable dozens of homes in the city, collapse a portion of an interstate in west Oakland, damage the Bay Bridge, and force the demolition of a freeway along the Embarcadero. And this was in a comparatively wealthy area with strict building codes...
7:22 p.m. EST: We've learned that Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled a previously planned trip to Australia to stay in Washington to oversee his agency's response to the earthquake. Gates did that after talking with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was also going to Australia but decided to come back.
5:28 p.m. EST
The State Department says two C-130 cargo planes are ready to transport around 100 Americans out of Haiti. No further details were immediately available about the condition of the Americans being rescued or where the aircraft would land in the U.S.
Among those expected to be airlifted are dependents of U.S. officials, non-essential embassy personnel and some private U.S. citizens living in Haiti who made their way to the airport. More substantial numbers of Americans are expected to evacuate in the coming days.
In an evening press briefing, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said two U.S. rescue teams – a national Disaster Assistance Relief Team and a search and rescue team from Fairfax County, Va. – had arrived in Port-au-Prince. Two additional search and rescue teams, from Miami and Los Angeles, are currently en route.
Secretary of State Clinton has been monitoring the Haiti situation from Hawaii and has been in contact with the president and secretary of defense as well as numerous foreign leaders.
She will cut short her planned diplomatic trip to Asia and return to the United States early because of the Haiti disaster, Crowley said.
The State Department is looking into the status of three Americans in Haiti who may have been killed. Crowley said it is too early to tell what the total number of U.S. fatalities might be.
3:25 p.m. EST
As the international community mobilizes in support of Haitian earthquake victims, here's a list of what different nations and organizations are doing so far:
United States – President Obama pledged his "unwavering support" to Haiti and U.S. resources – two urban search and rescue teams along with the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and other naval/Coast Guard assets and a 2,000-member Marine unit - are either en route to the country or will disembark soon.
Mr. Obama will be talking via phone to Haiti's president and other regional leaders in order to coordinate rescue efforts. But there are no plans for the U.S. president to visit the region, as a trip would likely interfere with relief work.
United Nations – The U.N. has released $10 million in emergency funds to establish immediate operations in Haiti.
Its World Food Program is sending a plane full of high energy biscuits to the island today. Each biscuit packs enough nutritional value to feed a person for an entire day. The first shipment should feed 30,000 people for a week.
WFP is also set to airlift 86 metric tons of food from an emergency supply in El Salvador - enough to feed 30,000 for up to seven days.
The U.N. has 9,000 peacekeepers in Haiti, but 100 are missing following the collapse of its headquarters. 19 have been confirmed dead.
American Red Cross – Disbursed the initial $200,000 in aid to Haiti.
World Vision – This Christian aid group has 400 workers there. The organization will distribute any relief supplies it has in the country.
Iceland – Already sent 37 rescue personnel and 10 tons of equipment.
France - 65 rescue workers, plus 6 sniffer dogs are leaving today
Spain – Will send three planes with 100 tons of tents, blankets and cooking kits. It has also pledged $4.3 million in aid.
Israel – Will send Army engineers and medics.
Britain – Will send 64 firefighters with rescue dogs.
Netherlands –Has pledged $2.9 million
Germany – Has pledged $1.45 million
China – Has pledged $1 million
Digicel – A major cell phone provider in the Caribbean, this Irish company will donate $5 million.
2:48 p.m. EST
U.S. officials are temporarily suspending all deportations to Haiti, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said at a news conference in Miami.
But, according to a report in the Miami Herald, the White House hasn't indicated that it would grant Hatians Temporary Protected Status.
2:14 p.m. EST
(AP/Matt Marek/American Red Cross)
As charities solicit donations for Haiti earthquake victims, the FBI issued a warning about potential scammers taking advantage of the situation.
And they're already investigating an allegedly fraudulent Web site, CBS News has learned.
In a press release, the FBI advises people to follow the following guidelines:
• Do not respond to any unsolicited (SPAM) incoming emails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
• Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
• Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group's existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
• Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from know senders.
• Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
• Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
The group claims to be the largest organization of registered nurses in the U.S.
1:40 p.m. EST
The Twittersphere is galvanizing around Wyclef Jean, one of Haiti's favorite sons, who has launched a campaign urging people to donate toward earthquake relief through his charity organization, Yele.
Donors can pledge $5 by texting "Yele" 501501.
On a related note, public relations firm Global Results has furnished a list of other charities that people can donate to using text messages.
• Text "Haiti" to 85944 to donate $5 on behalf of the Rescue Union Mission and MedCorp International.
• Text "Haiti" to 25383 to donate $5 on behalf of the Internal Rescue Committee
• Text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 on behalf of the Red Cross in the U.S.
• Text "Haiti" to 45678 (in Canada only) on behalf of the Salvation Army in Canada.
1:24 p.m. EST
609264The U.S. is "very seriously looking at" sending troops to Haiti for security purposes, according to U.S. Southern Command General Douglas Fraser.
Speaking at to the media from the State Department, Fraser said the U.S. has various forces "on alert" should circumstances warrant their deployment.
Fraser said there were 63 military personnel in Haiti at the time of the quake. Officials are still tying to account for their whereabouts.
The USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier, is en route to the area, along with some smaller ships, cutters and destroyers. Officials are looking at sending a large-deck amphibious with a Marine expeditionary unit a few days after the Vinson.
Meanwhile, State Department Counselor Cheryl Mills told reporters that "just about all" of the 172 personnel at the U.S. embassy in Haiti had been accounted for.
Eight personnel are wounded - four seriously - she said. Coast Guard helicopters are medevacing out the injured.
The embassy is still intact and has good communication capabilities, officials said. The State Department has ordered that 80 spouses, children, and non-essential personnel at the embassy leave the country, and they are scheduled to do so later today.
Officials say there are approximately 45,000 US citizens in Haiti overall. Mills said the government has "received a number of reports of injured U.S. citizens," though no "major reports" of casualties.
Soon after, leading Senator Youri Latortue told the AP that the toll might reach as high as 500,000.
These estimates are drastically higher than President Rene Preval's earlier prediction of thousands dead. Both Bellerive and Latortue both admitted they had no way of knowing if their forecasts were accurate.
The U.S. State Department, operating with no firm estimate on casualties, is expecting "serious loss of life," a spokesman said.
12:23 p.m. EST
CBS News raw video of a rescue from a toppled building:
The U.N. says a prison among the collapsed buildings in Port-au-Prince and reports of escaped inmates are coming in, according to the Associated Press.
11:33 a.m. EST
Paul McPhun, the operations director for Doctors Without Borders in Haiti, said none of the three primary centers in Port-au-Prince are operational in the aftermath of the quake. One completely collapsed and the other two were severely affected. McPhun said his staff of 800 is trying to find a suitable place the set up makeshift centers.
His doctors, who are overwhelmed with cases of severe head wounds and crushed limbs, can't provide anything except first aid and stabilization.
McPhun said his staff has described the scene as "very chaotic."
Preval said he walked through several neighborhoods to survey the damage and said that "all of the hospitals are packed with people. It is a catastrophe."
His wife, First Lady Elisabeth Debrosse Delatour, told the paper she was "stepping over dead bodies. A lot of people are buried under buildings. The general hospital has collapsed. We need support. We need help. We need engineers."
President Obama called the Haiti earthquake "truly heart-wrenching" as he pledged "unwavering support" for the devastated nation.
The president, speaking to the media from the White House, said that while Haitians are "no strangers to hardship and suffering, this tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible."
Mr. Obama said the U.S. was engaged in a "swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives."
Search and rescue teams are being mobilized from Florida, Virginia and California and will begin arriving today and Thursday, the president said.
The first priority will be accounting for U.S. embassy personnel and their families.
Mr. Obama said any Americans looking for information on family members in Haiti can call the State Department at (888) 407-4747.
Americans interested in aiding earthquake victims can visit whitehouse.gov for information.
10:02 a.m. EST A Roman Catholic priest in France claims the archbishop of Port-au-Prince was killed in the earthquake, reports the Associated Press.
9:56 a.m. EST
In a media briefing this morning, State Department spokesman P J Crowley said there were no American fatalities in the quake and confirmed the airport in Port au Prince was operational, reports CBS News correspondent Charles Wolfson.
All embassy employees have been accounted for except one, he said.
Crowley said a disaster response team was scheduled to arrive in Port au Prince at approximately 1:30 p.m. and indicated the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship, had begun to recall its crew. However, he deferred questions on whether the ship would be deployed to the Pentagon and Navy.
Earlier this morning, Haitian Ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Joseph, told CNN that Haiti's first lady was calling for a hospital ship to be deployed off the coast of Port au Prince, as the U.S. did in 2008, after four hurricanes hit the island in the span of three weeks.
9:28 a.m. EST
White House pushes back President Obama's statement to 10:15 a.m. EST. CBS News will have a special report covering the statement.
CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer reports the president received two memorandums updating him on the earthquake in Haiti – one from the Department of Homeland Security's National Operations Center and another from the National Security Advisor that described further background on the quake, key decisions that have been made and actions that have already been taken.
Speaking Wednesday morning to "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith, Haiti's U.S. Ambassador said the president of the country and his wife survived the quake.
Raymond Joseph told CBS News that many government employees had survived because they were no longer in their offices when the quake struck just before 5 p.m.
Joseph said the "number one" need for Haiti Wednesday morning was a hospital ship that could dock off the nation's coast and help cope with the many wounded. After that, he said the most urgent needs were search and rescue teams and food and water.
France's foreign minister says the head of the U.N. mission in Haiti appears to have died in the earthquake. Bernard Kouchner told two French radio stations that his information about Tunisian diplomat Hedi Annabi had come from the French ambassador in Haiti.
6:26 a.m. EST
The Red Cross estimates that 3 million people have been affected by the earthquake.
5:49 a.m. EST
An official Chinese newspaper says eight Chinese peacekeepers were killed in the earthquake that struck Haiti and that 10 others are missing. The China Daily newspaper reported online Wednesday that the dead were buried under the rubble.
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