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Sabtu, 14 Agustus 2021

Haiti earthquake: Death toll rising after 7.2-magnitude quake - NEWS.com.au

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake has struck the Caribbean nation Haiti, destroying buildings and killing at least 29 people.

That death toll is expected to keep rising.

The earthquake occurred on Saturday morning local time, about 125 kilometres west of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. The epicentre was only 12 kilometres from the smaller town Saint-Louis du Sud.

It was followed by several aftershocks, which will continue in the coming days.

“High casualties are probably and the disaster is likely widespread,” the US Geological Survey said.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry has declared a state of emergency. In a statement on social media addressing the disaster, he said it had caused “enormous damage”.

“We will make the necessary arrangements to help people affected by the earthquake in the Southern Peninsula,” Dr Henry said.

“I’m mobilising all the resources of my administration.

“I extend my sympathies to the parents of the victims.”

Haiti is still recovering from the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake it suffered in 2010, which affected millions of people and killed more than 200,000. That one happened further east, much closer to Port-au-Prince.

“Lots of homes are destroyed, people are dead and some are at the hospital,” 21-year-old Christella Saint Hilaire, who lives near the epicentre, told AFP.

“Everyone is in the street now and the shocks keep coming.”

The earthquake was felt across much of the Caribbean. Photos posted online showed a number of damaged buildings in Haiti, including homes and schools.

Residents also shared images of frantic efforts to pull people from the ruins of caved-in buildings, while bystanders sought safety in the streets outside their homes.

“Houses and their surrounding walls have collapsed. The roof of the cathedral has fallen down,” said Job Joseph, from the hard-hit city of Jeremie.

The damage in Les Cayes was also significant, and included the collapse of a multistorey hotel.

Jerry Chandler, who heads Haiti’s civil protection agency, told reporters the death toll stood at 29 and search efforts were ongoing.

US President Joe Biden has approved “immediate” efforts to aid Haiti, which will be overseen by Samantha Power, head of America’s Agency for International Development.

The 2010 earthquake reduced much of Port-au-Prince and nearby cities to dusty ruins.

More than 1.5 million Haitians were made homeless, leaving the nation’s government and the international humanitarian community with a colossal task.

It destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, as well as administrative buildings and schools, not to mention 60 per cent of Haiti’s healthcare system.

The rebuilding of the country’s main hospital remains incomplete, and nongovernmental organisations have struggled to make up for the state’s deficiencies.

Today’s earthquake comes just over a month after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen, shaking a nation already battling poverty, spiralling gang violence and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Police say they have arrested 44 people in connection with the killing, including 12 police officers, 18 Colombians who were allegedly part of the commando team, and two Americans of Haitian descent.

The head of Mr Moise’s security detail is among those detained in connection with the plot, which was allegedly organised by a group of Haitians with foreign ties.

Jean-Wickens Merone, a spokesman for the aid group World Vision Haiti, told CNN he was worried about the toll the earthquake will have on top of Haiti’s other crises.

“We’re concerned that this earthquake is just one more crisis on top of what the country is already facing, including the worsening political stalemate after the president’s assassination, Covid and food insecurity,” he said.

Tropical Storm Grace is expected to impact the country next week, strong winds and heavy rain which could cause flash flooding.

- with AFP

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2021-08-14 18:24:34Z
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