Saint-Louis-du-Sud (dpa) – At least 304 people have been killed in a massive earthquake in southern Haiti. More than 1,800 people were injured, the country’s civil defense department reported Saturday evening (local time).
In addition, many buildings were destroyed. Rescuers and civilians rescued countless people from the rubble. More victims are feared.
The quake, whose strength of the US agency USGS was 7.2, happened on Saturday morning about twelve kilometers from the municipality of Saint-Louis-du-Sud at a depth of about ten kilometers. After that, Haiti was rocked by several aftershocks, reaching a magnitude of 5.2, according to the USGS. The quake evokes memories of the devastating earthquake in 2010, which killed more than 220,000 people.
People under rubble
The US National Weather Service (NOAA) initially issued a tsunami warning, but later retracted it. Many buildings were destroyed by the earthquake, as can be seen in photos and videos on social networks. People were reportedly buried under the rubble and hospitals were overloaded and damaged. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) sent a team of experts.
The International Red Cross’s search and rescue efforts focused on the area around the particularly affected towns of Jérémie and Les Cayes, where people could still be trapped. The organization also sent emergency care. Relief supplies for at least 4,500 people are available. In addition, emergency supplies are being held and made available in Panama and the Caribbean.
Interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he visited the Grand ‘Anse department and flew over the town of Les Cayes to get an idea of the extent of the damage. He declared a state of emergency for a month. The Organization of American States (OAS), Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Canada and the United States provided assistance.
“The United States remains a good and constant friend of the Haitian people, and we will be there after this tragedy,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one or whose homes and businesses have been destroyed.”
Already destroyed in 2010
The federal government called for the affected areas in the southwest of the island state to be avoided. “Numerous deaths and injuries are expected, as well as serious damage to buildings and infrastructure. There are still strong aftershocks,” Foreign Affairs warned on Saturday evening. “Avoid affected area,” the travel and safety information reads. Traveling to Haiti has been strongly discouraged for a long time.
Parts of the poor Caribbean state of Haiti were already destroyed by a major earthquake in 2010. At the time, Haiti’s populous capital, Port-au-Prince, was the center of the earthquake. 222,000 people died and more than 300,000 were injured. More than a million people lost their homes.
Reconstruction got off to a slow start, partly due to political instability. The desperately poor Caribbean state of Haiti is repeatedly ravaged by crises. President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July. He was ambushed in his home and shot dead by a heavily armed commando.