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Sabtu, 14 Agustus 2021

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake hits Haiti killing more than 300, Prime Minister declares state of emergency - ABC News

At least 304 people have died and hundreds are injured or missing after a major earthquake struck south-western Haiti, authorities say.

The 7.2-magnitude quake reduced churches, hotels and homes to rubble in the latest tragedy to hit the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The quake, which was followed by a series of aftershocks, struck 8 kilometres from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, about 150 kilometres west of the capital Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 10km, the United States Geological Survey said.

That made the tremor, which was felt as far away as Cuba and Jamaica, potentially bigger and more shallow than the magnitude 7 earthquake 11 years ago that killed tens of thousands in the poorest nation in the Americas.

This one — which occurred about 8:30am on Saturday (local time) — hit farther away from the capital, however.

In Port-au-Prince, it was strongly felt but did not appear to have caused major damage, according to Reuters witnesses.

Rubble from a church in Haiti after an earthquake
The quake hit days before Tropical Storm Grace is forecast to reach Haiti.(

Ap: Delot Jean

)

Still, Haiti's Civil Protection service said the preliminary death toll stood at 304, with at least 1,800 injured and Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared a month-long state of emergency.

"The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble," Mr Henry said.

"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.

A woman stands in front of a destroyed home in the aftermath of an earthquake in Les Cayes.
The earthquake comes as Haiti faces growing hunger and healthcare services are already overwhelmed by COVID-19.(

AP: Duples Plymouth

)

The nearest big town was Les Cayes, where many buildings collapsed or suffered major damage, according to authorities, who said they were searching for survivors.

"I saw bodies being pulled out of the rubble, injured and perhaps dead people," said Les Cayes resident Jean Marie Simon, 38, who was at the market when the earthquake struck and ran home to see if his family was safe.

"I heard cries of pain everywhere I passed through."

His wife and 2-year-old child had been bathing and rushed out to the street, naked, just before the front of the house crumbled. Simon gave his wife his shirt and they took refuge in the courtyard of a church with other locals.

His mother's house had also collapsed.

"My legs are still trembling."

People search for survivors in rubble after homes were destroyed by the earthquake.
The civil protection agency says rescue workers and bystanders have been able to pull many people to safety from the rubble.(

AP: Joseph Odelyn

)

In Les Cayes, locals said water had briefly flooded the coastal town of 126,000, causing panic amid fear of a tsunami, but then appeared to retreat.

Haitian media outlets reported some people along the coast had already fled to the mountains.

The US Tsunami Warning System issued a tsunami warning after the quake, lifting it shortly thereafter.

US President Joe Biden has authorised an immediate US response to the earthquake.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also said he was ordering the government to prepare immediate relief.

Haiti reeling from the assassination of its President

The earthquake struck more than a month after President Jovenel Moïse was killed, sending the country into political chaos, and humanitarian aid groups said the earthquake would add to the suffering.

"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," said Jean-Wickens Merone, spokesman for World Vision Haiti.

Catholic priest Fredy Elie, who began working with the Mission in Haiti Congregation after the 2010 earthquake, told Associated Press that access to the area was hindered by criminal gangs and was pleading for help.

"It's time to open the road to those who want to help … They need help from all of us," he said.

Reuters/AP

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2021-08-14 20:42:55Z
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