Authorities Expect High Death Toll After 7.2-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Haiti - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Saturday, August 14, 2021

Authorities Expect High Death Toll After 7.2-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Haiti





The Daily Crucible

Barely 11 years after, another earthquake has hit the Caribean country of Haiti, leaving an estimated scores of residents dead and thousands injured as it tore through the south-west of the island and reducing buildings in the area to rubble. The number of fatalities is not immediately clear but local authorities have confirmed that some residents have lost their lives.

There was a similar earthquake in the country in 2010.

A 7.0-magnitude quake hit Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, leaving an estimated 220,000 dead, some 1.5 million people displaced and about 300,000 injured.

This time, a  7.2 magnitude earthquake struck western Haiti, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said, causing several deaths and damaging buildings in the disaster-plagued Caribbean nation.

Caruso said Saturday's quake is on par with the 2010 quake because of its similar magnitude and because it occurred along the same fault line.

The quake comes amid unrest in the country following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last month.

Given the whole crisis that Haiti has been going through, especially in the last few months, the death of the president, President Jovenel Moise,
through assassination, the country was never really ready to face yet another earthquake of such a magnitude and with such damages on Saturday.

The magnitude 7.2 earthquake on Saturday struck 12km (7.4 miles) northeast of Saint-Louis du Sud, on Haiti’s southern Tiburon peninsula, and struck at a shallow depth of 10 km, the USGS reported.

Haiti’s new prime minister, Ariel Henry, said on Twitter that the ″violent quake″ had caused loss of life and “enormous damage” in various parts of the country.

This is just trying to grapple with the urgency to hold elections ‘as quickly as possible.’

The Prime Minister said he would mobilise all available government resources to help victims and appealed to Haitians to unify as they “confront this dramatic situation in which we’re living right now”.

The USGS said “high casualties are probable and the disaster is likely widespread”.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) also reported a quake in the region, saying it was magnitude 7.6, while Cuba’s seismological centre said it registered a magnitude of 7.4.

The USGS issued a tsunami warning, saying waves of up to three metres (nearly 10 feet) were possible along the coastline of Haiti, but it soon lifted the warning.

Shock waves were felt throughout Haiti and in neighbouring Caribbean countries.

“Lots of homes are destroyed, people are dead and some are at the hospital,” Christella Saint Hilaire, who lives near the epicentre, told AFP.

“Everyone is in the street now and the shocks keep coming,” she added.

“Everyone is in the street now and the shocks keep coming,” she added.

Crises undermine disaster reponse

The impoverished country, where many live in tenuous circumstances, is vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes. It was struck by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in 2018 that killed more than a dozen people, and a vastly larger magnitude 7.1 quake that damaged much of the capital in 2010 and killed an estimated 200,000 people.

The earthquake on Saturday struck more than a month after President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated, sending a country already battling poverty, spiralling gang violence and COVID-19 into political chaos.

Jeremy Dupin, a journalist and filmmaker based in Port-au-Prince, said that Haiti’s existing problems will severely undermine the response to the disaster.

“The epicentre is four hours drive away [from Port-au-Prince] and it is going to take a lot of time for support to arrive,” Dupin said.

“Communications in some places are paralysed, and there are very limited electricity services in [the affected areas] right now,” he added.

He said footage on social media appears to show people trapped under rubble with no rescue teams on the ground.

“In [affected] communities people are just trying to help each other, and it is a very upsetting situation right now,” he said.

The quake on Saturday was felt as far as Cuba and Jamaica although there were no reports of material damage, deaths or injuries there.

Haiti is still recovering from the magnitude 7 earthquake closer to the capital 11 years ago.

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.

“This country just never finds a break! Each year of mismanagement did not hurt but the cumulative effects made us vulnerable to everything,” said Haitian entrepreneur Marc Alain Boucicault on Twitter on Saturday. “Its going to take years to fix things and we have not even started!”

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center has forecasted that Tropical Storm Grace will reach Haiti late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

Catholic priest Fredy Elie, who began working with the Mission in Haiti Congregation after the 2010 earthquake, told The Associated Press on Saturday that access to the affected area is hindered by criminal gangs and was pleading for help.

“It’s time to open the road to those who want to help … They need help from all of us,” Elie said.

- Additional report Aljazeera

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