TENS of thousands of people were thought to have been killed in a 7.0 magnitude earthquake which hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Emergency aid teams were dispatched from many countries but most of them encountered difficulty in starting work because of the breakdown of communications and blocked roads.

Venezuela devalued its currency, making imported goods twice as expensive as previously.

President Chavez said he would use the army to ensure that no price rises took place.

He also sacked his energy minister, blaming him for electricity shortages.

An official Dutch inquiry concluded that the Iraq war, which the Dutch government supported, was illegal in international law.

The UN reported that 2'400 civilians had been killed in Afghanistan in 2009, most of them by Taliban attacks.

The Californian governor Arnold Schwarzeneger presented his final budget, saying that there was “simply no conceivable way to close a $20 billion deficit other than more cuts and more pain”.