| GEO World|
| Thousands feared dead as major quake strikes Haiti|
| Updated at: 2011 PST, Wednesday, January 13, 2010|
PORT-AU-PRINCE: A major earthquake rocked Haiti, killing possibly thousands of people as it toppled the presidential palace and hillside shanties alike and left the Caribbean nation appealing for international help.
A five-story U.N. headquarters building was also brought down by Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude quake, the most powerful to hit Haiti in more than 200 years according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Television footage from the capital, Port-au-Prince, showed scenes of chaos on the streets with people sobbing and appearing dazed amid the rubble. The presidential palace lay in ruins, its domes fallen on top of flattened walls.
The quake's epicenter was only 10 miles (16 km) from Port-au-Prince. About 4 million people live in the city and surrounding area. Aftershocks as powerful as 5.9 rattled the city throughout the night and into Wednesday.
Reports on casualties and damage were slow to emerge due to communication problems.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he feared everyone in the U.N. building was killed when it collapsed.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the missing included the chief of the U.N. mission in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, but he could not confirm reports Annabi had died. He said some100-150 people were in the building when the quake struck.
Several bodies had been recovered from the wreckage of the U.N. headquarters, U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said. He told reporters fewer than 10 people, "some dead, some alive," had been pulled from the rubble but many remained underneath.
Brazilian General Carlos Barcellos said at least four Brazilian members of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti were killed and a large number of Brazilian soldiers were missing.