Aug 16: The Haitian government declared a state of emergency after a magnitude 7, 2 earthquake hit the country on Saturday, which killed at least 1,297 people and injured more than 5,700, according to the country's civil defense agency.
Of the 1,297 dead, 1,054 are in the Southern Administrative Region, 119 in Grand'Anse, 122 in Nippa and two in the Northwest Region, the civil defense service said.
The earthquake destroyed 13,694 homes and damaged 13,785 more, agency officials said. The destruction also led to the fact that hospitals were blocked, and roads along which vital goods could be transported were closed.
“When it comes to medical needs, this is our greatest urgency. We have started sending medicines and medical personnel to the affected facilities,” said Prime Minister Ariel Henry. "For people in urgent need of special assistance, we have evacuated a certain number of people, and we will evacuate a few more today and tomorrow."
The state of emergency applies to the Western Department, the Southern Department, Nippa and Grand'Ans.
The quake struck at 8:30 am at a depth of about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), with an epicenter about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) northeast of Saint Louis du Sud in the southwest of the country. The site was about 96 kilometers (60 miles) west of the catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake in 2010, which killed approximately 220,000 to 300,000 people.
Saturday's earthquake was much less devastating than the 2010 earthquake. A UN reconnaissance mission in the affected areas found "less significant damage than originally expected," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Sunday.
"The most urgent humanitarian needs are expected to relate to the provision of medical assistance and water, sanitation and hygiene," the organization said.
Amethyst Arcelius, administrator of the Immaculate Conception Hospital in Le Quays, told CNN on Sunday that he expects a massive wave of casualties, including many outlying districts of the city who were unable to arrive on Saturday or were too scared of new aftershocks to seek medical attention.
“We are starting to get help from non-governmental organizations and from the government, but this is far from enough. We badly need X-ray film,” Arcelius said.
There are currently 500 earthquake victims in the hospital, many of them with broken legs and limbs, as well as head injuries.
The earthquake is just the latest challenge for a country still grappling with the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. The assassination of President Jovenel Moise last month, which has yet to be resolved and properly explained, has added even more instability to the country in crisis.
“We are concerned that this earthquake is just another crisis on top of those the country has already faced, including the deepening political stalemate following the assassination of the president, Covid and food insecurity,” said Jean-Vikens Merone, spokesman World Vision Haiti.
In addition, high winds and torrential rains caused by tropical storm Grace are likely in Haiti on Monday and Tuesday, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said. These rains can lead to floods and landslides, further complicating the recovery effort.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the entire coast of Haiti is under tropical storm surveillance, which means the possibility of a tropical storm within 48 hours.
“I am concerned about the coming storm as it could complicate our situation,” said Jerry Chandler, head of Haiti's civil defense agency.