A magnitude 7.2 earthquake has shaken the Caribbean country of Haiti, killing at least 304 people and destroying dozens of buildings, including homes, hotels, and schools.
According to the British news agency Reuters, the Haitian Civil Protection Service said that according to the initial data, 304 people have been killed and more than 1800 injured as a result of the earthquake.
According to the US Geological Survey, the epicenter was 150 km west of the capital Port-au-Prince at a depth of 10 km and a series of aftershocks followed. The quake struck at 8:30 a.m. local time, which was also felt in the capital but did not cause any major damage.
The quake destroyed at least 949 houses, seven churches, two hotels, and three schools. The other 723 houses, a jail, three medical centers, and seven schools were damaged, but the port, airport, and telecom infrastructure were spared major damage.
Haiti’s new prime minister, Ariel Henry, said in a Twitter message that the quake had caused “numerous deaths and severe damage” in various parts of the country.
He said that he would use all government resources to help the victims and termed the situation as dramatic and appealed to the nation to show solidarity and unity. The prime minister announced a month-long state of emergency in the country and said he would not appeal for international aid until the damage was determined.
He said that some places along the coast have been completely destroyed and the government is preparing a plan to rehabilitate them. Earlier, Haiti’s director of civil protection, Jerry Chandler, told the Associated Press that 29 people had been killed so far in the quake and that rescue teams would be sent to different areas to assess further damage.
A statement from the White House said, “President Joe Biden and his Vice President Kamala Harris were briefed on the earthquake in Haiti on Saturday. He assured Haiti of assistance and full cooperation, while various countries, including Chile and Argentina, also offered assistance.
According to the US Geological Survey, the quake is expected to cause widespread deaths and destruction. The epicenter was reported at 7.6 magnitude, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Center.
The US Geological Survey also issued a tsunami warning after the quake, saying waves up to three meters high could rise in the tsunami, but later withdrew the warning. The quake affected Haiti as well as neighboring Caribbean countries.
“Countless houses have been destroyed, people have been killed and some are in hospital,” Christella, who lives near the quake’s epicenter, told AFP.
He said that as soon as the quake hit, people took to the streets and a large number of buildings were destroyed. The quake comes a month after the country’s president, Juvenal Moises, was assassinated, while the impoverished country faces economic challenges as well as the Code-19 crisis.
Earlier, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake shook the country in 2018, killing more than a dozen people, but a devastating earthquake in 2010 killed 200,000 people. The country’s infrastructure was badly damaged after the quake, which has so far left millions homeless.