According to the United States Geological Survey, a massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on Saturday morning, which caused fears of destruction, similar to the devastating 2010 earthquake that struck the country. According to Haiti’s Civil Protection Service, at least 304 people have died, and over 1,800 were injured. The USGS predicts that the death toll could reach thousands of people.
“It looks like it’s terrible,” USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told NPR. “There could be a lot of losses,” Caruso said that Saturday’s earthquake was at eye level with the 2010 earthquake. An earthquake of magnitude 7.0 hit Haiti on 12 January 2010, leaving approximately 220,000 deaths, displaced about 1.5 million people, and some 300,000 people injured.
Ariel Henry, Haiti’s new prime minister, expressed compassion in a tweet translated “to the parents of the victims of this violent earthquake that caused multiple losses of human and material lives in various geographical sectors of the country.”
Henry said he would proclaim a state of emergency for a month while the country evaluates the damage caused by the disaster and sends equipment to the area for search and rescue missions.
President Biden has approved an immediate response from the United States and appointed Samantha Power, manager of US AID, to coordinate efforts, said a White House official. According to USGS, the earthquake’s epicenter was 12 kilometers or 7.5 miles northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud and 10 kilometers deep.
According to the survey, it was reached eight miles from the city of Petit-Trou-de-Nippes, in the western part of the country. As a result, the USGS placed the earthquake in its category of “red alarm.” “There are likely to be high losses and extensive damage, and the disaster is likely to be widespread. The previous red warnings required a national or international response,” USGS said.
In the Weekend Edition, two major cities, Les Cayes and Jeremie, had been severely affected. Port-au-Prince journalist Harold Isaacs told Scott Simon of NPR.
The Earthquake is the Most Recent Crisis in Haiti:
The earthquake occurs amid riots in the country following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last month.
“The whole crisis that Haiti has suffered, especially in recent months, the death of the president by murder, has never really been prepared to face another earthquake of this magnitude and with such damage,” says Isaac.
“It is, in fact, another crisis, important for the new government, which is also very sick,” said Isaac.
Cara Buck, Acting Country Director of Mercy Corps, told Don Gonyea of NPR at All Things Consider she was concerned about cases of COVID-19, food insecurity, poverty, and displacement. “The government’s ability to respond to this is in question,” Buck says.
Worse, the region is doubly threatened by another natural disaster: Tropical Storm Grace could be hit early next week as Haitians continue to crash with the earthquake. According to the National Hurricane Center, winds of up to 45 mph and 3-6 inches of precipitation are forecast.
In addition, according to the National Hurricane Center, tropical depression Fred, formerly classified as a tropical storm, could also regain strength. The people of capital Port-au-Prince, about 80 miles east of the epicenter, felt the tremor, and many broke into streets out of fear.
Buck, who is in Port-au-Prince, said he was shaken from his bed by the earthquake and felt his building would sink into the water. Henry, the Prime Minister, called on Twitter “to the spirit of solidarity and commitment of all Haitians to face this dramatic situation that we are currently experiencing. Unity is strength.”