A 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti during the early hours of Saturday morning and more than 300 people had been confirmed dead by early Saturday evening as rescue workers in the affected areas work to search for those hurt or still missing.
The earthquake’s epicenter was about 90 miles west of the capital Port-au-Prince, at a depth of about 6 miles according to the United States Geological Survey, and struck the area around 8:30 a.m. local time. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has now declared a month-long state of emergency.
As the nation’s civil protection agency continued to issue statements on Twitter about the mounting death toll and number of injured, Prime Minister Henry has announced he is mobilizing all available government resources to help victims in the affected areas.
Some areas are still experiencing aftershocks, the strongest so far being a 5.2, and significant damage to roads, infrastructure, homes, and buildings has been reported. The quake was stronger than the massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the country in 2010, which killed an estimated 220,000 people, and it comes as a fresh blow to citizens of the country still reeling from the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last month.
“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,” said Jean-Wickens Merone, a spokesman for World Vision Haiti. Saturday’s disaster came two days before the Caribbean nation is expected to be slammed by Tropical Storm Grace.
Prime Minister Henry told reporters that although the country is in a state of emergency, he will not seek international help until the full extent of damages is known. At the time of this writing, Henry’s most recent tweet stated that he was out surveying the damage and that resources for victims “have been mobilized since this morning.”
“I am currently in the department of Grand ‘Anse to see the extent of the damage in order to better coordinate government action on the ground,” a translation of his tweet said. “Resources have been mobilized since this morning to provide aid and assistance to the victims of this devastating earthquake.”