- A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Haiti.
- Haitian authorities said at least 1,297 people have been killed in the quake, with 5,700 injured.
- Haiti is still recovering from a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated the country in 2010.
At least 1,297 people have been killed and 5,700 injured in Haiti after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the country, Haitian authorities announced, according to Reuters.
Locals who had their homes destroyed in Saturday’s disaster had to spend the night sleeping in hospital gardens and soccer fields.
The quake struck the country at roughly 8:30 a.m. local time, some 7.5 miles northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud, and more than 90 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Then, 20 minutes after the first quake, a 5.2-magnitude tremor struck the island.
Videos from social media show destroyed buildings and distressed voices shouting as the population reels from the disaster.
“High casualties are probable and the disaster is likely widespread,” according to the USGS.
Flooding appears to have started in the country, raising the risk for more damage to follow the quake, which was felt as far as Cuba and Jamaica.
The US Tsunami Warning System has forecasted “hazardous tsunami waves,” with predictions of waves reaching up to three meters above the tide level along the coast of Haiti.
—Mundo en Conflicto 🌎 (@MundoEConflicto) August 14, 2021
—Leonardo Feldman (@LeoFeldmanNEWS) August 14, 2021
Ariel Henry, Haiti’s new prime minister, declared a one-month state of emergency and said some towns had been almost completely razed, according to the Associated Press.
“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” Henry said. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.”
The White House said in a statement Saturday evening that President Joe Biden has authorized an “immediate US response” and tapped USAID Administrator Samantha Power to lead the effort.
“Through USAID, we are supporting efforts to assess the damage and assist efforts to recover those who were injured and those who must now rebuild,” Biden’s statement said. “The United States remains a close and enduring friend to the people of Haiti, and we will be there in the aftermath of this tragedy.”
—Samantha Power (@PowerUSAID) August 15, 2021
—Ralph Simon (@RalphSimon13) August 14, 2021
Haiti is still recovering from its 2010 disaster
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the country in 2010, killing between 220,000 and 300,000 people.
The impoverished Caribbean nation, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, is still recovering from the 2010 disaster. There were 52 aftershocks that followed the 2010 quake, which raises the question of how much damage is still yet to come from today’s tremor.
In 2017, the United Nations (UN) stated that 2.5 million Haitians still needed aid following the quake that devastated the country seven years earlier.
At the time, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mourad Wahba gave a harrowing account of the challenges that the country continued to face.
“There are still about 55,000 people in camps and makeshift camps,” he said. “Many are still living in unsanitary conditions due to displacement caused by the earthquake. We have a very long way to go.”
In 2018, the country was also hit by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in 2018 that killed 18 people.
The quake also comes amid unrest following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in his home last month.