* Red Cross fears around three million people affected by 7.2 quake
* Up to 100 UN staff believed dead after headquarters collapse
* Charities launch emergency appeals to help stricken survivors
* Presidential palace crumbles, hospital collapses and houses swept away
* Britain sends emergency team as Obama vows ‘unwavering’ support
Bloodstained bodies are piled high in the streets of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince today amid fears that thousands have died in a catastrophic earthquake.
Rescuers have been forced to dig through rubble with their bare hands to free trapped survivors as the Red Cross said up to three million people may have been affected.
British and international aid agencies are rushing to assist today as the full horror of the disaster began to emerge.
It is still unclear how many have been killed in the earthquake, which measured 7.2 on the Richter scale, but aid agencies fear thousands are dead.
Haitian president Rene Preval described the scene in Port-au Prince as ‘unimaginable.’
‘Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,’ he said.
Among the fatalities were up to 100 UN staff, including Hedi Annabi, the Secretary General’s special envoy, who were working inside its five-storey headquarters when it collapsed.
The Roman Catholic Arcbishop of Port-au-Prince Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot also died. His body was found in the ruins of the archdiocese office.
Around 200 people are also feared dead after a hotel crumbled to dust, the National Palace is in ruins and a major hospital also destroyed.
The destruction is said to be staggering, even in an impoverished nation accustomed to tragedy and disaster.
Eyewitnesses said gravely injured Haitians were crying out from the rubble, pleading for doctors as night fell.
With the country in chaos and facing still more damage from a series of 30 aftershocks, their cries went mostly unheard.
The quake, the most powerful in the region for 200 years, was centred about ten miles west of the Haitian capital, a city of two million people, many of them living in flimsy shanty slums.
It struck at 4.53pm yesterday and was followed by as many as 30 aftershocks, one of them as strong as 5.9 on the Richter scale, a sizeable earthquake in its own right.
The centre was also relatively shallow, less than ten miles below ground, raising the risk of damage.
Survivors held hands and sung hymns as they waited for help to come. But many people spent the night fighting for their lives.
Officials say thousands of people — and perhaps many, many more — are dead after Tuesday’s major earthquake. A leading Haitian senator says the death toll may reach 500,000 based on the amount of the destruction, but there are no firm figures.
The prime minister told CNN that hundreds of thousands of people died.
Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital today after the quake flattened the president’s palace, the cathedral, hospitals, schools, the main prison and thousands of homes.
The bodies of the dead were everywhere in Port-au-Prince. Bodies of tiny children were piled next to schools. Bodies of women lay with stunned expressions frozen on the street as flies began to gather. Bodies of men were covered with plastic tarps or cotton sheets.