Toll of earthquake victims in Haiti rises to 724 dead
At least 724 people have died, and another 2,800 have been injured in Haiti due to the earthquake that this Saturday has shaken the Caribbean nation, according to the latest assessment offered by Civil Protection.
According to the director of Civil Protection, Jerry Chandler, most of the fatalities have been recorded in the South department, where 600 deaths have already been confirmed.
Along with this department, Grand Anse and Nippes have been the other two most affected by an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale, which had its epicenter 12 kilometers from Saint Louis du Sud.
“The first interventions, which have been carried out by both professional rescuers and members of the population, have allowed many people to be removed from the rubble,” said Civil Protection, which continues to work to unlock access to damaged areas and increase rescues.”
Nearly 3,000 homes have been destroyed by the shaking, and another 5,000 have been damaged, in addition to several other buildings, including churches, schools, police stations, hotels, and health institutions. More than 24 hours later, the cities of Jeremie and Les Cayes remain cut off by the landslide caused by the earthquake, which cut off communication on National Route 7.
The powerful earthquake, which has caused nine aftershocks with a magnitude greater than 4 in the following hours, has taken place at 08.29 (14.29, Spanish peninsular time), about 12 kilometers from the town of Saint-Louis du Sud, and with a hypocenter 10 kilometers deep, according to the report of the Geological Institute of the United States (USGS).
This body has issued a red alert to the possibility that the earthquake has left many victims, something that the authorities have already begun to recognize with the first images that arrived from the affected places and that showed destroyed buildings.
The destruction has been particularly noticeable in the area of Les Cayes, where the hotels of Le Manguier and Petit pas Hotel have collapsed, according to the newspaper ‘Le Nouvelliste.’ Local media have also reported the collapse of health centers in some areas.
So far, Prime Minister Ariel Henry has gone to assess the damage. “I just flew over at low altitude in Les Cayes to see the extent of the damage in order to better channel the emergency response,” he said on his Twitter account.
Likewise, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reported that the Hospital de la Concepción located in this city is “overflowing.” “Mothers wait outside with their injured children,” he said on his Twitter account.
Haiti considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is still living with the impact of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that left some 200,000 people dead. The country has also been in a state of political turmoil since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July.
On the other hand, Civil Protection has warned that in the next two days, the arrival of tropical storm ‘Grace’ is expected, so it has asked the population “to prepare to protect their lives and possessions.”
STATE OF EMERGENCY
Henry has given orders to fully mobilize “all resources” of the Haitian Government to help the victims and appealed to the population’s cooperation to save this new tragedy. To this end, it has announced that it will declare a state of emergency.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the parents of the victims of this violent earthquake that caused several losses of human and material lives in several geographical departments of the country,” the president said.
Henry has confirmed that most of the damage has been concentrated in the southwest of the country, specifically in the departments of Sur, Grand’Anse, and Nippes.
“I want to appeal to the spirit of solidarity and commitment of all Haitians, to unite in the face of this dramatic situation we are currently experiencing. Unity makes strength,” he said in a series of messages posted on his Twitter account.