While news outlets such as The Associated Press, Reuters and Getty Images succeeded in getting some information and photos to the outside world, nontraditional media also played a part. YouTube videos, posts on Twitter and Facebook and cell phone cameras all helped document the tragedy.
Internet images, amateur and professional, showed gaily painted blue, pink and yellow houses that had collapsed - in many cases, with those who lived there inside.
One photo showed an elderly woman in a festive blue and yellow print dress crouched in the middle of a road and staring ahead in horror.
Other Internet pictures showed military personnel in blue helmets surveying the damage as they maneuvered their cars through rubble-strewn streets filled with displaced people.
Medical personnel helped the injured, wrapping them in white makeshift bandages, and crossing the arms of the dead on their chests, photos showed.
Dazed children stared ahead as workers wound bandages around their heads. And some Twitter posts said as many as 24 aftershocks had hit the island as it struggled to deal with the disaster.
Everywhere, death had taken its toll.