DEC 'monitoring the situation in Haiti closely' following earthquake

The coalition of 14 aid charities said it was gathering information, as the British Red Cross launched its own appeal to help those affected

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The Disasters Emergency Committee has said it is closely monitoring the situation in Haiti and considering whether to launch an appeal after an earthquake struck the country on Saturday.

The coalition of 14 major aid charities that co-ordinates appeals for humanitarian crises has said it is gathering information – including about a tropical storm that is expected to hit the island tomorrow.

The British Red Cross, which is a member of the DEC, has launched its own emergency appeal and said it was ready to join the Haitian Red Cross on the ground.

According to the BBC, officials in Haiti have confirmed that at least 1,297 people have died and many more are trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings.

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake was larger than the earthquake that struck in 2010, which measured 7.0, and killed an estimated 200,000 people.

The tropical storm – Storm Grace – is expected to hit Haiti on Tuesday. Hospitals are already severely stretched, according to early reports, and some have been heavily damaged, along with roads, homes and other buildings.

A DEC spokesman said the organisation was "monitoring the situation closely, gathering information, keeping an eye on the tropical storm coming in, and will make a decision about an appeal in due course when that information comes in”.

The British Red Cross said damage and needs assessments were taking place, but that many areas were cut off from communication.

Luke Tredget, the charity’s head of emergencies, said the search and rescue effort was “extremely urgent” as a result of ongoing aftershocks and the approaching storm.

He said: “With hundreds dead, many more injured and people still trapped, the situation in Haiti is extremely serious. We’re hearing from our teams in the region that hospitals have been damaged, and are totally overwhelmed due to the number of injured patients coming in.

“Elsewhere bridges and major roads having been hit by the earthquake and landslides have made them impassable.”

He went on to say the Haiti Earthquake Appeal would “help fund Red Cross emergency teams to get there as quickly as possible, to provide emergency healthcare to the injured, and basic supplies to those who have been displaced in a country that was already tackling multiple challenges”.

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