At least 300 dead as Haiti struck by 7.2 magnitude earthquake

The Caribbean nation Haiti has been struck by a deadly earthquake killing 300 people

<p>People search through the rubble of what used to be the Manguier Hotel after the earthquake hit Haiti on August 14 in Les Cayes (Stanley Louis / AFP/Getty)</p>

People search through the rubble of what used to be the Manguier Hotel after the earthquake hit Haiti on August 14 in Les Cayes (Stanley Louis / AFP/Getty)

At least 300 people were killed and hundreds were injured and missing after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti.

Prime minister Ariel Henry said he was sending aid to areas where towns were destroyed on Saturday and hospitals overwhelmed with incoming patients.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • The epicentre of the quake was about 78 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, the US Geological Survey said, and widespread damage was reported
  • Haiti’s civil protection agency said that the death toll stood at 304 and that search teams would be sent to the area
  • Rescue workers and bystanders were able to pull many people to safety from the rubble while many injured people were still being taken to hospitals
  • Henry declared a one-month state of emergency for the whole country and said he would not ask for international help until the extent of the damages was known
  • He said some towns were almost completely razed and the government had people in the coastal town of Les Cayes to help plan and co-ordinate the response

What’s been said

"The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble.

"We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.

“The needs are enormous. We must take care of the injured and fractured, but also provide food, aid, temporary shelter and psychological support.”

Prime minister Ariel Henry

Background

Videos posted to social media showed collapsed buildings near the epicentre and people running into the streets.

Humanitarian aid groups said the earthquake would only worsen the nation’s suffering as reports of overwhelmed hospitals come as Haiti struggles with the pandemic and a lack of resources to deal with it.

Just last month, the country of 11 million people received its first batch of US-donated Covid vaccines, via a United Nations programme for low-income countries.

Paul Caruso, a geophysicist with the USGS, said aftershocks are likely to continue for weeks or months, with the largest so far registering a magnitude 5.2.

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 300,000 people.