UPDATE: Prime minister Jean-Max Bellerive tells CNN: "I believe we are well over 100,000," while leading senator Youri Latortue tells The Associated Press that 500,000 could be dead. Both admit they have no way of knowing.More >>
MADISON (WKOW) -- A group of University of Wisconsin students in Haiti felt the tremors from Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake, but escaped unharmed.
Five students and one advisor arrived in Haiti on Sunday, part of Engineers Without Borders, a group that helps impoverished nations design and build major projects.
The UW students are living in Bayonnais, about 70 miles north of the earthquake's epicenter near Port-au-Prince.
Senior Eyleen Chou blogged about the disaster, an hour after it happened.
"We are ok! Don't worry, it was a mere tremor here," she wrote. "But please do keep an eye on the news for PAP airport as our travel plans may be affected."
"We are all safe," wrote project manager Tyler Lark via e-mail. "There was no damage in the immediate area. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Port-au-Prince and all who have been affected."
"We do not have access to a telephone, but our satellite Internet is ok for now," Tyler wrote.
According to the group's blog, since 2002, Engineers Without Borders helped construct a bridge over a large river, installed a solar power system, and is currently working on the design and construction of a medical clinic in Bayonnais.
"They stay at a church," explained Paul Fossum, EWB vice president. "They have all their meals there, then they travel to different places."
The group is also working on a hydro-electric power plant to provide electricity for the clinic and surrounding homes.
"The goal is that they're sustainable, and last along time after we're gone -- at least 10 to 20 years later," Fossum said.
The projects EWB works on are meant to survive the destructive power of natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis, Fossum explained.
The students were scheduled to come home on January 15th, but damaged sustained at the airport may delay their trip.
The state department set up a telephone number for Americans looking for information on family members in Haiti.
It is toll free -- (888)-407-4747
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