A powerful earthquake shook Haiti on Saturday morning, killing at least 304 people and causing extensive damage in the southwestern part of the island, bringing back painful memories of the devastating 2010 earthquake.
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook the region at 8:30 a.m. Saturday (12:30 GMT), 12 km from St. Louis-de-Suite and 160 km from the capital Port-au-Prince. .
The quake destroyed churches, shops, houses and buildings, leaving hundreds of people trapped in the rubble.
Citizens were trapped in the rubble, often without special equipment, in an effort applauded by the Civil Defense, who said, “First interventions allowed many people to be evacuated from under the rubble, while hospitals were injured.”
The death toll from the quake has risen to at least 304, with hundreds injured and missing, 227 people said in an earlier announcement, the Civil Defense said.
On Saturday afternoon, Director of Civil Defense Jerry Chandler told AFP that the three hospital centers in Bastille, Corey and Rosso had reached their maximum capacity.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared, “The government has declared a state of emergency this morning for a month following the catastrophe.”
The Prime Minister is expected to head a team of officials concerned to the site in the coming hours with the aim of “fully assessing the situation”.
In Washington, President Joe Biden announced in a statement, “I regret the devastating earthquake that struck Saint-Louis-de-Suite in Haiti this morning.”
A White House official, who did not want to be named, said Biden “recognized the immediate U.S. response and ordered Samantha Powers of the United States Agency for International Assistance (USIIT) to coordinate the effort.”
The hotel and house collapsed
On the southern coast of Haiti, the multi-storey Hotel Le Mயர்nquire in Los Gas, the third largest city in the country, has completely collapsed.
Witnesses said the body of hotel owner and former Haitian senator Gabriel Fortune was pulled from the rubble. His death was later confirmed by the Prime Minister.
Residents across the country felt the quake. Jeremy, a city of more than 200,000 people on the southwest tip of the peninsula, was heavily damaged in the middle of it, mainly with single-storey houses.
“The roof of the cathedral collapsed. The main street is closed … This is where all the economic activity of the city is concentrated,” said Job Joseph, a resident of Jeremy.
“People went crazy,” Thomas Jean-Pierre said. “Parents left the city carrying their children after rumors of a tsunami spread.”
The U.S. Geological Survey issued a tsunami alert shortly after the quake, which was quickly canceled.
The city of Jeremy, known as the City of Poets, is relatively isolated from the country because the national road that crosses the island is not yet complete.
“I was in my house when it started to shake, I was near the window and I saw everything fall,” said Cristella San Helier, 21, who lives near the center.
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