A major earthquake struck just off the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, sparking a tsunami watch for parts of the Caribbean, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Raymond Joseph, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, told CNN he had little information about the extent of damage from the quake, which had a reported magnitude of 7.0. But he said the suffering inflicted on the impoverished Caribbean nation was likely to be “catastrophic.”
“The only thing I can do now is pray and hope for the best,” he said.
Joseph said one government official — the only one he was able to reach — told him houses had crumbled “on the right side of the street and the left side of the street.”
The Associated Press reported that a hospital had collapsed.
The quake had a reported magnitude of 7.0 and was centered about 10 miles (16 km) off the coast and about 6 miles (10 km) underground, according to the USGS. Are you there?
A tsunami watch was posted for Haiti and parts of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, but historical data suggests a destructive, widespread tsunami was not a threat, the USGS reported.
The quake could be felt strongly in the eastern Cuban city of Santiago, about 250 miles west of Port-au-Prince.
“It was very strong. It lasted for almost a minute,” said Marlon Romaguera, who runs a bed-and-breakfast there.