A powerful earthquake has added to Haiti’s woes – killing at least 304 people, injuring 1,800 others, and destroying hundreds of homes.
People rushed onto the streets to seek safety and help rescue those trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes, hotels and other structures.
Saturday’s magnitude 7.2 quake struck the southwest of the Caribbean island nation, razing towns and triggering landslides that hampered rescue efforts in two of the hardest-hit communities.
This latest disaster adds to the plight of Haitians, who were already grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, a presidential assassination, and deepening poverty.
The widespread damage could worsen this week with Tropical Storm Grace predicted to reach Haiti late Monday
The Haitian government declared a state of emergency.
“When it comes to medical needs, this is our biggest urgency. We have started to send medications and medical personnel to the facilities that are affected,” Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced in a news conference. “For the people who need urgent special care, we have evacuated a certain number of them, and we will evacuate some more today and tomorrow.”
The state of emergency will be in the Western Department, Southern Department, Nippes, and Grand’Anse.
One hospital in the southern city of Jeremie said it is overwhelmed with patients.
“There are a lot of people coming in — a lot of people,” an administrator at the Hospital Saint Antoine told CNN. “We don’t have enough supplies.”
The hospital has set up tents in its courtyard, the administrator said.
The earthquake was about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud and 10 kilometers deep, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
“There are reports of significant damage to homes, roads, and infrastructure,” American Red Cross spokeswoman Katie Wilkes said.
Martine Moise, the first lady of Haiti, said her heart “hurts” after receiving news about the earthquake, which caused enormous damage south of Grand’Anse.
“The initial information that I have received from Grand’Anse is heart-wrenching,” the first lady said. “It hurts my heart for the kids, the mothers, the elderlies, the handicaps, my friends, and all the victims of this earthquake.”
“My brothers and sisters, we have to put our shoulders together to come together to demonstrate our solidarity. It is our togetherness that makes up our strength and resilience. Courage, I will always be by your side.” Moise added.