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Last Updated: Wednesday January 13 2010 17:58 GMT

Huge earthquake devastates Haiti

Massive earthquake hits Haiti

A huge earthquake has devastated the Caribbean country of Haiti, with thousands of people feared dead.

The minute-long quake was felt all over the island and reached 7.0 on the Richter scale, which measures the strength of the tremors.

Lots of buildings, including the national palace and a hospital in capital Port-au-Prince, were destroyed.

Aid agency the Red Cross say that as many as three million people could have been affected by the quake.

UK aid workers heading to Haiti

In his first interview since the earthquake, President Preval told and American newspaper he feared thousands of his people had died.

He called the scene in the capital "unimaginable", and said: "Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed."

It's the worst quake to hit Haiti in 200 years and has been described by one official there as a "catastrophe".

What caused the quake?

The centre of the quake hit near Port-au-Prince and was quickly followed by two strong aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5 on the Richter scale.

Haiti is one of the world's poorest countries. The cost of the damage is already being estimated at billions of pounds.

American president Barack Obama said his thoughts were with everyone who'd been affected and that America was ready to help.

Elsewhere, rescue workers from around the world, including fire crews from Greater Manchester and Lancashire, travelled to Haiti on Wednesday to help with the search for survivors.