A major earthquake shook Haiti on Tuesday at 4:53 p.m. The magnitude 7.0 quake is the largest ever recorded in the area. The temblor was centered about 10 miles west of Port-au-Prince and lasted over a minute.
According to Reuters, initial reports suggest massive damage, numerous injuries and loss of life in the Caribbean nation from the quake and several strong aftershocks.
As of early this morning, there were search and rescue operations underway in the impoverished nation. The quake has toppled buildings and demolished homes, including a hospital, the National Palace and the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
Damage is reported as severe in Port-au-Prince, which is built on the side of a hill. The power is out, as well as landline and mobile phone communications in the city, various sources say. Major roadways have also been blocked by debris.
The temperature at the time of the quake, which was around sunset, was close to 80 degrees and the sky was partly cloudy. There is the risk of a shower in parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic into early this morning. Low temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 60s for much of the area.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, dozens of aftershocks have rattled the region, with magnitudes varying from 4.5 to 5.9.
A tsunami warning was issued for Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas, but only a very small tsunami was generated by the quakes.
According to ABC News, Raymond Joseph, the Haitian ambassador to the United States stated late on Tuesday afternoon that it was "a catastrophe of major proportions."
Earthquakes are not unknown to the Caribbean. In 1692, a massive quake largely destroyed Port Royal, Jamaica, by causing it to sink into the sea. Approximately one dozen major earthquakes have occurred in the Caribbean over the past 500 years.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Katie Storbeck also contributed to the content of this story.