Haiti Struck with Earthquake following the assassination of President last month.
A massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey said, raising fears of destruction similar to the devastating 2010 quake that shattered the country.
At least 724 people have died and more than 2,800 were injured, according to Jerry Chandler, Haiti’s director general of civil protection. The USGS predicts the death toll could reach into the thousands.
People stand outside the residence of the Catholic bishop after it was damaged by an earthquake in Les Cayes on Saturday.
“It looks like it’s really bad,” USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso told NPR on Saturday. “There could be a lot of casualties.” 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.
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.
Ariel Henry, Haiti’s new prime minister, in a translated tweet extended his sympathies “to the parents of the victims of this violent earthquake which caused several losses of human and material lives in several geographical departments of the country.”
Henry said he will declare a state of emergency for one month as the country assesses the damage from the disaster and sends teams to the area for search and rescue missions.
A building collapsed in Petite-Rivière-de-Nippes, Haiti after the earthquake.
President Biden has authorized an immediate U.S. response and named Samantha Power, the U.S. AID administrator, to coordinate the effort, a White House official said.
The epicenter of the earthquake was 12 kilometers, or 7.5 miles, northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud and 10 kilometers deep, according to the USGS. It struck five miles from the town of Petit-Trou-de-Nippes in the western part of the country, the survey said.
The USGS put the earthquake in its “red alert” category.
“High casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Past red alerts have required a national or international response,” the USGS said.
The residence of the Catholic bishop is damaged after an earthquake in Les Cayes.
Two major cities, Les Cayes and Jeremie, have been severely affected, Port-au-Prince journalist Harold Isaac told NPR’s Scott Simon on Weekend Edition.