NAfter the severe earthquake in southwest Haiti, the death toll rose to at least 304. More than 1,800 people were injured, as the country’s civil protection department reported on Twitter on Saturday evening (local time). According to the US earthquake monitoring station USGS, the tremor with a magnitude of 7.2 shook the country in the morning (local time), the epicenter was about 160 kilometers southwest of the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince.
Among the dead was the former Senator Jean Gabriel Fortuné, who, according to information from the online portal “Gazette Haiti”, was buried under the rubble of his hotel in the city of Cayes. Two children aged seven and nine were killed in the city of Aquinas.
The US agency USGS called a red alert on Saturday with a view to possible fatalities. She also referred to the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. The current quake shook the same peninsula in Haiti. The 2010 earthquake caused significant damage in the city of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding regions. At that time, more than 200,000 people died as a result of the disaster.
The US authorities also referred to a strong earthquake that occurred on Saturday off the south coast of the US state of Alaska. It had shaken the region with a magnitude of 6.9. “Despite the temporal correspondence between these two earthquakes, the great distance between these two events makes a causal relationship unlikely,” the agency wrote.
A tsunami warning was lifted for Haiti. The US National Weather Service (NOAA) advised people on Saturday to remain cautious. In the coastal areas near the earthquake, there could still be minor fluctuations in sea level of up to 30 centimeters, it said.
According to official information, the quake occurred around 12 kilometers from the municipality of Saint-Louis-du-Sud at a depth of around ten kilometers. Numerous houses are reported to have been destroyed by the quake. The exact extent of the damage was initially unclear.
The federal government has called for people to avoid the affected areas in the southwest of the island state. “Numerous deaths and injuries as well as severe damage to buildings and infrastructure must be expected. There are still strong aftershocks, ”warned the Foreign Office on Saturday evening. “Avoid the affected area. Familiarize yourself with what to do in the event of earthquakes and tsunamis, ”said the travel and safety information. “Follow the local media.”
The children’s charity Unicef asked people via Twitter to move away from their homes and especially to protect their children. Save the Children also expressed great concern for the children. The organization’s staff on site reported “terrible devastation”: collapsed houses, numerous injuries and deaths, it was said. Even if it will take days to capture the full extent of the damage, it is already clear that Haiti is in the midst of a humanitarian emergency. “We now have to react quickly and decisively to protect the children,” said Leila Bourahla, Country Director of Save the Children in Haiti.
The Maltese team is also preparing relief measures
Meanwhile, the United States has promised the Caribbean state quick aid. “Our experts are already on site to assess damage and needs,” wrote the head of the US agency for development cooperation and emergency aid USAID, Samantha Powers, on Twitter on Saturday. One now wants to react quickly. US President Joe Biden had been informed of the situation in Haiti and asked that USAID coordinate the US response.
The Malteser International team is also preparing the first emergency aid measures for the people in the region in Haiti. “We expect that today’s earthquake will have devastating consequences,” said the organization on Saturday evening in Cologne. The stone houses in the affected region in the department of Nippes were built very simply, employees of the local partner organizations reported that buildings like houses of cards had collapsed, according to the Maltese.
Yolette Etienne, Malteser International’s project coordinator in Haiti, was deeply shocked. “I can’t believe what the people in Haiti have to endure. They already had little yesterday. Today they literally have nothing left. ”Help will be provided as soon as possible.
The damage caused by the 2010 quake was estimated at 8 billion US dollars (6.2 billion euros). Reconstruction got off to a slow start, also due to the political instability. Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July. He was ambushed and shot dead by a heavily armed commando at his residence.