The 7.2 magnitude earthquake has triggered aftershocks and its consequences are still unknown
At least 29 people have died from the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck western Haiti this Saturday, according to a preliminary balance by the authorities of the Caribbean country, which are assessing the magnitude of the damage caused by an earthquake that raised fears in the first moments the arrival of a tsunami to the coasts.
The powerful earthquake, which caused seven aftershocks with a magnitude greater than 4 in the following four hours, took place at 08:29 (02:29, Spanish peninsular time), about 12 kilometers from the town of Saint-Louis du Sud, and with a hypocenter 10 kilometers deep, according to the report of the United States Geological Institute (USGS).
This body has issued a red alert to the possibility that the earthquake has left a large number of victims, something that local authorities have already begun to recognize with the first images that arrived from the affected places. The destruction has been particularly notorious in the area of Les Cayes, where the hotels of Le Manguier and Petit pas Hotel have collapsed, according to the newspaper ‘Le Nouvelliste’.
Civil Protection officials have appeared at a press conference to confirm a first balance of 29 deaths, although they have acknowledged that they are still analyzing the scope of the tragedy. They have also warned of the risks of future aftershocks, which could cause new landslides.
Haiti, considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, still lives with the impact of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that left some 200,000 people dead. The country has also experienced a state of political turmoil since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July.
The Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry, has ordered to fully mobilize “all the resources” of the Haitian Government to help the victims and appealed to the cooperation of the population to save this new tragedy. To this end, it has announced that it will declare a state of emergency. “I extend my deepest condolences to the parents of the victims of this violent earthquake that caused several losses of human and material life in various geographic departments of the country,” said the president.
Henry has confirmed that most of the damage has been concentrated in the southwest of the country, specifically in the departments of Sur, Grand’Anse and Nippes. It is to this region where Henry has declared that he intends to travel in the next few hours “to assess the situation as a whole.” «I want to appeal to the spirit of solidarity and commitment of all Haitians, to unite in the face of this dramatic situation that we are currently experiencing. Unity is strength, “he said in a series of messages posted on his Twitter account.
On everyone’s mind is the 2010 earthquake, when some 200,000 people died. Haiti is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (IOM) estimates that 4.4 million citizens, more than 40 percent of the population, need help to meet their basic needs. .
The representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Haiti, Brun Maes, has been “deeply saddened” by the first reports on victims and “heavy damage” and has confirmed the agency’s willingness to collaborate so much with the Government as with other partners and help affected areas.
UNICEF staff in the south of the country have begun to assess the situation to prioritize this assistance, taking into account that there will be displaced people who will need shelter, clean water or medical attention. Even before this earthquake, the agency estimated 1.9 million Haitian children in need of humanitarian aid.