Haiti Reels From 7.2-Magnitude Earthquake, 304 Lives Lost

At least 304 people were killed and more than 1,800 were injured yesterday after a powerful earthquake struck Haiti.

On Saturday morning, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the country’s west, tearing down churches, hotels, and other buildings.

The Haitian government declared a state of emergency in the Western Department, Southern Department, Nippes, and Grand’Anse, Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced at a press conference.

He said there was “extensive damage,” adding that authorities had started working to help those affected.

“When it comes to medical needs, this is our biggest urgency. We have started to send medications and medical personnel to the facilities that are affected,” Henry said.

“For the people who need urgent special care, we have evacuated a certain number of them, and we will evacuate some more today and tomorrow,” he added.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the epicenter of Saturday’s earthquake was about 12 kilometers from the city of Saint-Louis du Sud and 10 kilometers deep.

The quake was reportedly felt in the capital, Port-au-Prince, located about 125 kilometers away.

It was also felt in neighboring countries, including the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the United States Minor Outlying Islands, the Turks, and Caicos Islands.

“There are reports of significant damage to homes, roads, and infrastructure,” American Red Cross spokeswoman Katie Wilkes told the media.

The prime minister said they had mobilized a rescue team to work on relief efforts, adding that their goal was to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble.

“We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people,” he stated.

US President Joe Biden said he had authorized an immediate response from his government to help Haiti.

USAID will work hard to support efforts to “assess the damage and assist efforts to recover those who were injured and those who must now rebuild,” he stated.

“In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake,” he added.

Haiti recently faced the assassination of its President Jovenel Moïse at his Port-au-Prince residence on July 7.

Also, Haiti is still struggling to recover from the devastating 2010 7-magnitude earthquake, which left 316,000 dead, 350,000 injured, and over 1.5 million homeless.

Earlier, the USGS had warned that the earthquake could result in thousands of fatalities and injuries, adding that aftershocks had also been felt in the region.

A magnitude 5.2 aftershock struck Haiti yesterday morning, about 20 kilometers west-northwest of Cavaillon, followed by a magnitude 5.1 aftershock around noon.

The US Tsunami Warning System said that a tsunami threat issued for the region had already passed.

But Haiti is also in the Tropical Storm Grace’s cone and can experience powerful tropical storm winds.

Heavy rains could lead to flash or localized flooding and mudslides Monday into Tuesday, experts said.

The Red Cross emergency response system has been activated to identify “urgent needs” in the country.

Besides the United States, some Latin American nations said they had been preparing to help Haiti, including Chile, Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela.