Tens of thousands of people are now thought to have died in the earthquake which struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Despite offers of help from around the world, rescue efforts have been hindered by a lack of infrastructure in what is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Aside from the terrible human cost, this is a setback Haiti will struggle to recover from. There were high hopes back in 1986 when a popular uprising finally overthrew the dictatorship of Baby Doc Duvalier, but in the years since a mixture of abortive elections, coups and regular violence has meant Haiti has been so unstable, the lives of its citizens haven't improved all that much.
Or at least that was the case until recently. With former President Clinton on board as US special envoy, and following the decision of Haiti's debtors to write off huge amounts of money the country was never going to be able to pay back, things finally seemed to be looking up. And then the quake hit. Once Haitians get over the initial shock of this terrible natural disaster, they must hope that the world doesn't just repair the damage, but also commits to helping the government build the kind of society that just didn't exist there before. If that doesn't happen, Haiti will go on being the worst of the west.