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At least 29 killed in Haiti earthquake, say authorities

Local authorities have said the quake caused multiple deaths.

The earthquake's epicentre was about 8km (5 miles) from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes.
The earthquake's epicentre was about 8km (5 miles) from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes.

Updated Aug 14th 2021, 6:19 PM

A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday, causing at least 29 deaths and toppling buildings in the disaster-plagued Caribbean nation still recovering from a devastating 2010 quake.

The epicentre of the shaking, which rattled homes and sent terrified locals scrambling for safety, was about 100 miles (160 kilometres) by road west of the centre of the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince.

US President Joe Biden has approved “immediate” aid for Haiti, naming USAID administrator Samantha Power to co-ordinate the effort.

The long, initial quake was felt in much of the Caribbean. It damaged schools as well as homes on Haiti’s southwestern peninsula, according to images circulated by witnesses.

“I can confirm there are deaths, but I don’t yet have an exact toll,” said Jerry Chandler, who heads the country’s civil protection agency.

Residents shared images on social media of frantic efforts to pull people from the ruins of caved-in buildings, while screaming bystanders sought safety in the streets outside their homes.

“Houses and their surrounding walls have collapsed. The roof of the cathedral has fallen down,” resident Job Joseph told AFP from the hard-hit city of Jeremie on Haiti’s far western end.

Heavy damage was reported in the centre of the city, which is composed primarily of single-story residences and buildings.

The damage the city of Les Cayes appeared to be significant, including the collapse of a multi-story hotel.

“I am mobilizing all the resources of my administration in order to come to the aid of victims,” Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry wrote on Twitter, as he called on the nation to unite.

Shortly after the quake, the USGS issued a tsunami alert, saying waves of up to three meters (nearly 10 feet) were possible along the coastline of Haiti, but lifted the warning soon after.

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A magnitude-7.0 quake in January 2010 destroyed much of Port-au-Prince and nearby cities, killing more than 200,000 and injuring some 300,000 others.

More than a million and a half Haitians were made homeless, leaving island authorities and the international humanitarian community with a colossal challenge in a country lacking either a land registry or building codes.

The quake destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, as well as administrative buildings and schools, not to mention 60 percent of Haiti’s health-care system.

The rebuilding of the country’s main hospital remains incomplete, and nongovernmental organisations have struggled to make up for the state’s many deficiencies.

The latest quake comes just over a month after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen, shaking a country already battling poverty, spiralling gang violence and Covid-19.

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AFP

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