Haiti: Earthquake death toll hits 1,297

Mobile phone photographs show the destruction to homes in Les Cayes, South Department, Haiti, caused by 14 August 2021’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

At least 1297 people have died and thousands injured in Haiti due to an earthquake on Saturday. Haiti’s hospitals were swamped on Sunday by thousands of injured residents as authorities raced to bring doctors to the worst-hit areas before a major storm hits.

The damage and devastation come as Haiti braces itself for Tropical Storm Grace, which could hit the island in the next few days.

The 7.2 magnitude quake destroyed thousands of homes and buildings in a Caribbean nation which is still clawing its way back from another major temblor 11 years ago and is reeling from the assassination of its president last month, reports Reuters.

Some 13,694 houses were destroyed, the civil protection agency said, suggesting the toll could rise further.

Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency said the toll from the disaster had climbed to 1,297 and the hospitals that were still functioning were struggling to cope as some 5,700 people were injured.

“Little more than a decade on, Haiti is reeling once again. And this disaster coincides with political instability, rising gang violence, alarmingly high rates of malnutrition among children, and the COVID-19 pandemic – for which Haiti has received just 500,000 vaccine doses, despite requiring far more. It is now especially urgent to reach those impacted by the earthquake with the vaccine,” reads UNICEF statement.  

In the northwestern city of Jeremie, another badly hit area, doctors treated injured patients on hospital stretchers underneath trees and on mattresses by the side of the road, as healthcare centres have run out of space.

The epicentre was recorded around 12km northeast of Saint- Louis-du-Sud, about 125km west of the capital Port-au-Prince. Serious damage, injuries and casualties are reported in the Grande Anse, Sud and Sud-Est departments.

 Pope Francis urged the international community to show support swiftly. “May solidarity from everyone lighten the consequences of the tragedy,” he told pilgrims and tourists at his Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square.