George Packer in The Talk of the Town:
The earthquake seemed to follow a malignant design. It struck the metropolitan area where almost a third of Haiti’s nine million people live. It flattened the headquarters of the United Nations mission, which would have taken the lead in coördinating relief, and killed dozens of U.N. employees, including, reportedly, the mission chief, Hédi Annabi. In a country without a building code, it wiped out whole neighborhoods of shoddy concrete structures, took down hospitals, wrecked the port, put the airport’s control tower out of action, damaged key institutions from the Presidential Palace to the National Cathedral, killed the archbishop and senior politicians, cut off power and phone service, and blocked passage through the streets. There was almost no heavy equipment in the capital that could be used to move debris off trapped survivors, or even to dig mass graves. “Everything is going wrong,” Guy LaRoche, a hospital manager, said.