(By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press Writer Jonathan M. Katz, Associated Press Writer)

Death was everywhere in Port-au-Prince. Bodies of tiny children were piled next to schools. Corpses of women lay on the street with stunned expressions frozen on their faces as flies began to gather. Bodies of men were covered with plastic tarps or cotton sheets.

President Rene Preval said he believes thousands were killed in Tuesday afternoon’s magnitude-7.0 quake, and the scope of the destruction prompted other officials to give even higher estimates. Leading Sen. Youri Latortue told The Associated Press that 500,000 could be dead, although he acknowledged that nobody really knows.

The international Red Cross said a third of Haiti’s 9 million people may need emergency aid and that it would take a day or two for a clear picture of the damage to emerge.

Aftershocks continued to rattle the capital of 2 million people as women covered in dust clawed out of debris, wailing. Stunned people wandered the streets holding hands. Thousands gathered in public squares to sing hymns.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said it was possible that the death toll "will be in the thousands."

"Initial reports suggest a high number of casualties and, of course, widespread damage but I don’t have any figure that I can give you with any reliability of what the number of casualties will be," Holmes said.

People pulled bodies from collapsed homes, covering them with sheets by the side of the road. Passers-by lifted the sheets to see if loved ones were underneath. Outside a crumbled building, the bodies of five children and three adults lay in a pile.

Comments (4)

I just need help with mistakes and the like.

My phobia, the thing that terrifies me the most, is earthquakes. The millions of people that live in California, let alone on the West Coast, fearing earthquakes may not seem so irrational. Earthquakes have happened. Earthquakes have killed. Earthquakes will happen. So why the use of the word “phobia” if my fears have valid reasons behind them? It is not whether or not my fears are sound or not, but rather my reaction to the earthquakes. All my problems started with one event, problems the likes of which still plague me to this day.

In 1994, an earthquake rocked most of Southern California. The earthquake and the damage it caused could be felt for miles from the epicenter in the San Fernando Valley, and clocked in at a whopping 6.7 on the Richter scale. I was only three at the time, but I can still remember that day vividly. I woke up to my uncle, who had been staying with us at the time, yelling at me. My bed was halfway across the room from where it had been when I had fallen asleep. My parents got to me just seconds after my uncle with my mom screaming for me and running after my dad. It was chaos as we tried to get out of the house. Glasses, plates, pictures, all seeming to fall on to of us, falling from their respective shelves and shattering on the floor. It was no wonder that no one had noticed my dad’s foot had started bleeding profusely until we were safely outside. For weeks after that day, I had nightmares and would often und up in my parents’ bed.

Nightmares weren’t the only thing that has resolved from that night. Since then, anytime there have been earthquakes or aftershocks or anything that even feels like an earthquake, I freak out. Immediately, I start to feel weak and shaky. I become fidgety for the rest of the day, and there is nothing I can do to calm down. There is nothing else that can terrify me so, and, in fact, as the years go by, it seems as though my fears have increased rather than be assuaged by time. The interesting thing about my reaction is the fact that I only seem to get these “symptoms,” for lack of a better word, when the earthquakes occur and after the entire ordeal. In between, in every other crisis or danger I have faced, I remain calm, cool, and collected. Only in the face of an earthquake do I freak out.

Most people get over their fears when they exist because of natural disasters. The people may still have an aversion to the things that remind them of the event that they have lived through, however, they tend to become used to the dangers that go with living in the region. And then there’s me. I still have my fear of any and all earthquakes, no matter how small. My sister accidentally bumping my bed while in my room for some reasons or my dogs jumping on my bed have me waking up, already on high alert. Every time I get worked up, I assure myself that everything is fine, that I am overreacting, and that I won’t act in such a manner the next time. Every time I get worked up, I forget the promise I made last time. In fact, over time, my fear seems to increase despite my effort to rein it in just slightly. Albeit, this has occurred over many years, and only slightly at that. While many other phobias interfere with people’s lives, mine has yet to do so. As such, I have little reason to for fully getting over my fear. Yes, I flip out when I believe there to be earthquakes, but it only occurs every so often, and I have yet to be incapacitated by it. I have only really freaked out at home, anyways. Nothing too embarrassing … yet.

Regardless of whether or not I have been embarrassed by my fear, the fact of the matter remains. An earthquake in 1994 scared me so thoroughly that I can still feel its repercussions, but not so much so that I have felt the need to get professional help. Perhaps, one day, in the near future, preferably before the next earthquake takes place, I will move to someplace else (Europe, maybe) where another phobia will replace my current fear of earthquakes.

Comments (2)

I was reminded of it when my brother – who resides near the epicenter -sent me an e-mail yesterday. The ironic thing is it was also his birthday. Here’s the response I sent to him:

I’ll never forget that night. Mom, Dad and maybe Sis were at the auction house across from farmers market, and I was home ready to watch the Athletics play the Giants in the World Series.

I had the TV on and was immediately noticed quite a lot of commercials on ABC. But I dismissed it as the necessary evil that surrounds sports what with the abundance of promotions and advertising dollars coming in from every source they can find.

Anyway, a short-lasting signal came up from Candlestick Park and I remember Al Michaels stating that the game had been postponed because of a major earthquake. I later realized that your area could have been affected and immediately tried to call you on the kitchen phone. The first attempt resulted in a busy signal. I tried again and I believe that was the one where you were in your driveway and you told me that you felt like you were on a see-saw because your car would go up and down as you were too. Then the signal got disconnected.

I’m not sure if we ever had a chance to get connected again, or if you and I got to talk later. I saw the lights of whatever vehicle that Mom and Dad were in, and was standing at the back door holding the screen door open. When they got to the steps, I said "Hey, first off, (My Brother) and (His Wife) are okay – I’ve spoken to them. But their area was just hit by a major earthquake. The calls keep getting interupted because of the aftershocks., but they are okay and are standing outside their house and there’s no major damage to their immediate area."

After that, I recall Mom getting you on the phone while I was in the living room watching all the coverage of the disaster. And honest to God, I knew the moment I first saw the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland that it had collapsed and I was almost certain that people were on the lower deck when it pancaked.

I’m glad you were okay. I was really worried about you.

Comments (13)

Ok so the other day, there was a 5.4 earthquake in southern california, and i was in the shower, home alone, during it. It scared me so badly and so did the 3.something aftershock. Do these things mean I have a phobia?:

-Earthquake.usgs.gov is my homepage
-Every movement I feel makes me think there is an earthquake.
-I will never take a shower when i’m home alone again.
-I started crying during the earthquakes
-I will start crying if I feel something that seems like an earthquake.
-I constantly check earthquake.esgs.gov for recent aftershocks
-Everytime I hear the sounds of my shower doors rattling (like I heard during the earthquake), I freak out

I’ll add more if I think of more

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Ok so can anybody give me some information on earthquakes? I’m studying abroad this year in Italy around 40 miles from where the big earthquake was the other day. Anyway what I’m wondering is if anybody knows if it’s normal that keep having big shakes. Some are being classes as aftershocks obviously but we’ve had 3 more above 5.0 on the Richter scale, with the last being only around 20mins ago. Is this normal? And if so and it is just the settling of the ground how long can we expect major shakes for? I’m really scared! these apartment blocks swaying like they are all the time is really frightening, I can’t sleep and I live on the 5th floor so it feels really dangerous up here. I’ve just found out that the last quake measured 5.7 on the Richter scale and like i say this was only a short while ago, what can I do to make myself feel better?!
If you want to look at these links you may be able to tell me more about if it’s really abnormal or not, I know the news here has been calling the situation an anomaly?
If it helps this link shows all the recent quakes apart from the last
and this shows the biggest ones, including the last one
Thanks the geologist that’s helpful. Well as I live on the 5th floor I’m not thinking about exit strategies because I heard you shouldn’t go into the internal stairwell. This may sound stupid but I thought I may put a mattress on top of my bathtub with a couple of bottles of water etc inside then if I feel another one get in under the mattress. Is this a really stupid idea or not?

Comments (2)

Knowing that large dams have and can cause earthquakes.does it sound reasonable to make the connection
between the recent quakes,and the stress that the dam and
resiviour are placing on the crust?

Maybe the stress transfered to a weaker fault line and ruptured it.It also could be a contributing factor in the strength
and high number of aftershocks.

I would like to hear good solid answers to this question.I am
researching trying to find maps of tectonic plates,and asian
earthquake faults.

Comments (12)

apparently there was a 5.2 earthquake about 5:30 a.m. EDT in Illinois. I live in southern Indiana and slept right through it. add that to the list of the disasters I have slept through in my life. I did however, feel the aftershock around 11:15 a.m. I looked and the USGS said it was a 4.6. I always thought that aftershocks were a lot smaller than that for an eatherquake of that size

Comments (14)

There is just some things that are not sitting right with me about all this earthquake stuff. Last week’s earthquake was very strange and there were some strange things that I noticed after the quake. A lot of low flying military-type airplanes, aftershocks that are downgraded minutes after they happen. There was a report of someone from Scott Airforce Base found dead in his home after a "Standoff" the night of the quake, but it was never reported in the news until 4 days later? I’ve noticed a lot of mini-quakes along the New Madrid fault line, where normally there is just a couple a week that show up on the map. Then there’s the Reno quakes….. don’t even get me started on that (Area 51)….. Does anyone else share my feeling that there is something more to these quakes? Tell me your thoughts…. Even if you think I’m a crackpot!

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Hey yesterday in Japan there was an earthquake and then some aftershocks in the afternoon.
Later that night I (In Hokkaido) felt an earthquake later that night, did anyone else living in Japan feel an earthquake last night? I was surprised that I would feel it all the way up here in Hokkaido. I text my friends and they all felt it too.
yeah I found out there was one just off from where I live


Comments (10)

This evening, I decided I should fill my water jugs just in case of a big earth quake. We had a 5.4 earth quake here 3 days ago and have been having minor aftershocks ever since. They have said midwestern earth quakes are poorly understood.
What else should we do to prepare for natural disaster?

Comments (6)