HAITI – (WARSOOR) – The death toll rose to 1,297 on Sunday after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti a day earlier, civil authorities said.
Haiti’s Civil Protection service said the number of injured people also rose to 5,700. Hospitals were struggling to cope with those who had arrived for care.
Officials continued to search for survivors in the aftermath of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Saturday morning. The quake was centered near the town of Petit-Trou-de-Nippes, about 125 kilometers west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 10 kilometers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The quake, which damaged houses, roads and bridges on the country’s southwest peninsula, displaced thousands of people.
Haiti Prime Minister Ariel Henry said on Sunday, “We must work together to provide rapid and effective responses to this extremely serious situation.” He had flown to Les Cayes on Saturday to survey the damage.
Compounding the difficulties facing the country, a tropical storm watch has been issued for the entire coast of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Tropical Depression Grace is expected to bring heavy rain to the island Monday, leading to flash flooding and mudslides.
Many residents in Les Cayes, the country’s third-largest city with a population of 90,000, stayed outdoors overnight, as aftershocks continued to rock the area into Sunday.
The U.S. Geological Survey said on Saturday that the earthquake increased the risk of landslides in the area, which is a major concern as Tropical Depression Grace, downgraded from a tropical storm on Sunday, bears down on the island of Hispaniola.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center forecast the storm is likely to reach Hispaniola by Monday and will drop from 10-20 centimeters of rain on Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the western and eastern sides of the island, respectively.
The heavy rain could trigger landslides, hampering search and rescue efforts and stalling aid reaching affected areas.
The Dominican Republic and Mexico were among the countries that sent food and medicine to Haiti. Cuba dispatched a 235-member health care team to Haiti.
Samantha Power, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said Sunday that the U.S. had deployed a 65-person urban search and rescue team with specialized equipment, as well as medical supplies, as part of its disaster response.
Bruno Maes, the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Haiti, told Reuters the U.N. was “calling for a humanitarian corridor in Haiti to allow quicker and safer transfer of goods and people.”
“We are really advocating for armed groups to allow this humanitarian aid to go to reach the people as soon as possible,” he said.
Due to security concerns, Jery Chandler, head of Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency, told Reuters that while authorities worked to create access for aid through Martissant, the government was sending most of the help by helicopters, planes and boats.
In Les Cayes Sunday, social media and wire reports showed rescuers, some using heavy equipment, searching through the rubble for survivors.
“Thanks to God and also to my phone, I’m alive,” Marcel Francois told Agence France-Presse. He was rescued from his collapsed two-story home in Les Cayes.
His younger brother Job Francois said Marcel Francois had called, sounding desperate, saying, “‘Come save me, I’m under the concrete’… He told me he couldn’t breathe, that he was dying.”
The neighbors and Job spent hours freeing him and his 10-year-old daughter from the heavy debris, AFP reported.
Just over a month ago, the country was left reeling after President Moise was assassinated in his home July 7 and his wife, Martine Moise, was injured in the attack.
Humanitarian aid groups said the earthquake would only worsen the suffering in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas.
“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,” Jean-Wickens Merone, spokesman for World Vision Haiti, said, according to the AP.
SOURCE: VOA NEWS
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