304 people have died and at least 1,800 are injured in a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti Saturday morning.
The epicentre of Saturday’s quake was about 12km (7.5 miles) from the town of Saint-Louis du Sud, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.
The tremor was felt in the densely populated capital of Port-au-Prince, some 125km away, and in neighbouring countries.
Haiti’s civil protection agency said on Twitter that the death toll stood at 304, most in the country’s south. Rescue workers and bystanders were able to pull many people to safety from the rubble. The agency said injured people were still being delivered to hospitals.
Gran Ri Vil Jeremie pic.twitter.com/RBPStzMOxE
— JCOM Haïti (@JCOMHaiti) August 14, 2021
In a news conference, Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared a one-month state of emergency for the whole country and said he would not ask for international help until the extent of the damages was known.
“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” said Henry. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.”
He said the International Red Cross and hospitals in unaffected areas were helping to care for the injured and appealed to Haitians for unity.
— Dr Ariel Henry (@DrArielHenry) August 14, 2021
“The needs are enormous. We must take care of the injured and fractured, but also provide food, aid, temporary shelter, and psychological support,” he said.
Naomi Osaka, whose father is from Jacmel, Haiti, said: “I feel like we really can’t catch a break.”
The Olympian, who is competing in a tournament this week, confirmed she would be donating the prize money to relief efforts for the Caribbean country.
“I know our ancestor’s blood is strong we’ll keep rising,” she tweeted.
Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break. I’m about to play a tournament this week and I’ll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti. I know our ancestors blood is strong we’ll keep rising 🇭🇹❤️🙏🏾
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) August 14, 2021
One of the most impacted areas appears to be the town of Les Cayes, where the search continues for survivors after many buildings collapsed. “I saw bodies being pulled out of the rubble, injured and perhaps dead people,” Les Cayes resident Jean Marie Simon, 38, told Reuters. “I heard cries of pain everywhere I passed through.”
According to the BBC, President Joe Biden pledged USAID support “to assess the damage and assist efforts to recover and rebuild,” appointing USAID Administrator Samantha Power to coordinate the U.S. aide effort.
“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,” President Biden wrote in a statement.
“The Haitian Government thanks you and your administration for your continued support and collaboration @POTUS,” the Haitian Embassy in the U.S. responded to Biden’s support on Twitter.
In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti this morning. Through USAID, we are supporting efforts to assess the damage and assist efforts to recover and rebuild.
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 14, 2021
Our thoughts are with the people of Haiti after the terrible earthquake. We pray for the victims and their loved ones. The United States is moving quickly to assess damage and assist in recovery.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) August 15, 2021