A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit near Haiti on Saturday (August 14) morning killing at least
1,297 and leaving at least 2,800 people injured. Thousands more were displaced from their destroyed or damaged homes.
The epicenter of the earthquake was 12 kilometers, or 7.5 miles, northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud and 10 kilometers deep, according to the US Geological Survey which put the earthquake in its “red alert” category.
“Red alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. High casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Past red alerts have required a national or international response” the USGS said.
Estimated economic losses are 7-70% GDP of Haiti, it added.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) also reported a tremor in the region, saying it was recorded a magnitude of 7.6. Cuba’s seismological centre said it registered a magnitude of 7.4.
Haiti which sit in an active seismic zone, is still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake when about 220,000 people died, some 300,000 injured were injured and more than 1.5 million Haitians were made homeless.
The new Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared a one-month state of emergency for the whole country after what he described on Twitter as a “violent quake.”
He also appealed on the social media “to the spirit of solidarity and commitment of all Haitians, in order to unite to face this dramatic situation that we are currently experiencing. Unity is strength.”
Government officials, humanitarian workers and Haitian citizens dig through rubble for survivors and gauge the scope of yet another large-scale disaster
The earthquake also struck just over a month after President Jovenel Moïse was killed by
a crew of mercenaries at his home in the capital, Port-au-Prince, sending the country into political chaos.
Meanwhile, the U.S. National Hurricane Center has forecast that Tropical Storm Grace will reach Haiti late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, posing a threat to bring heavy rain, flooding and landslides.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Dear lord, not another hit,’ ” Florida International University professor Richard Olson, who studies the politics of disasters told The Miami Herald. “We’re in the middle of hurricane season. They haven’t ever really recovered from 2010 event, and then the assassination and political instability that surrounds that. I’m almost afraid of anything else that can go wrong.”
In the badly damaged coastal town of Les Cayes, some went to the cathedral, which appeared outwardly undamaged. “We only have Jesus now,” Johanne Dorcely, 58, whose house was destroyed, told CBC News. “If it wasn’t for Jesus, I wouldn’t be able to be here today.”
The Carribbean nation of 11,000,000 people is ranked among the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
With reporting by AP, AFP, CBS News