- A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck off the coast of Haiti on Saturday August 14.
- Haitian authorities said more than 2000 people have been killed in the quake, with 12,000 injured.
- Haiti is still recovering from a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated the country in 2010.
At least 2,189 people have been killed and 12,000 injured in Haiti after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the country on Saturday, Haitian authorities announced, according to Reuters.
People whose homes were destroyed in the disaster have had to spend the night sleeping in hospital gardens and soccer fields.
Makeshift tent cities have been made in the worst hit area of Les Cayes, Haiti, in order to provide some shelter to the victims of the quake.
Roughly 14,000 houses have been destroyed so far.
The quake struck the country at roughly 8:30 a.m. local time, some 7.5 miles northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud, and more than 90 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Then, 20 minutes after the first quake, a 5.2-magnitude tremor struck the island.
Videos on social media showed destroyed buildings and distressed voices shouting as the population reels from the disaster. Some floods also appeared to have started in the country, raising the risk for more damage to follow the quake, which was felt as far as Cuba and Jamaica.
—Mundo en Conflicto 🌎 (@MundoEConflicto) August 14, 2021
—Leonardo Feldman (@LeoFeldmanNEWS) August 14, 2021
The rescue and aid efforts have been complicated by Tropical Depression Grace, having caused mudslides that stopped the passage of aid envoys from USAID and UN.
The humanitarian efforts have also been stopped by gang crime – a sign of the political tension in the country following the assasination of Haiti’s President on July 7 2021.
After the quake, Ariel Henry, Haiti’s new prime minister, declared a one-month state of emergency and said some towns had been almost completely razed.
“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” Henry said, the Associated Press reported. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.”
The White House said in a statement on the evening of the quake that President Joe Biden had authorized an “immediate US response” and tapped USAID Administrator Samantha Power to lead the effort.
“Through USAID, we are supporting efforts to assess the damage and assist efforts to recover those who were injured and those who must now rebuild,” Biden’s statement said. “The United States remains a close and enduring friend to the people of Haiti, and we will be there in the aftermath of this tragedy.”
—Samantha Power (@PowerUSAID) August 15, 2021
—Ralph Simon (@RalphSimon13) August 14, 2021
The US Tsunami Warning Center warned of a possible tsunami threat in the wake of the earthquake, but later rescinded it.
Haiti is still recovering from its 2010 disaster
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the country in 2010, killing between 220,000 and 300,000 people.
The impoverished Caribbean nation, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, is still recovering from the 2010 disaster. There were 52 aftershocks that followed the 2010 quake, which raises the question of how much damage is still yet to come from today’s tremor.
In 2017, the United Nations said that 2.5 million Haitians still needed aid following the quake that devastated the country seven years earlier.
At the time, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mourad Wahba gave a harrowing account of the challenges that the country continued to face.
“There are still about 55,000 people in camps and makeshift camps,” he said. “Many are still living in unsanitary conditions due to displacement caused by the earthquake. We have a very long way to go.”
In 2018, the country was also hit by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake in 2018 that killed 18 people.
Saturday’s quake also comes amid unrest following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in his home last month.