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Haiti over 1,000 dead from earthquake

The latest official report puts the number of dead at 1,297 and at least 5,700 injured nationwide, but most of the victims are concentrated in the southern department
Rescue teams scrambled to find survivors after a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti early Saturday morning, killing at least 304 people and toppling buildings in the disaster-stricken Caribbean country still recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2010.

AFP/STANLEY LOUIS  -   Rescue teams scrambled to find survivors after a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti early Saturday morning, killing at least 304 people and toppling buildings in the disaster-stricken Caribbean country still recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2010

The death toll from the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck southwest Haiti on Saturday has surpassed 1,000 people, while rescue teams continued their search for survivors on Sunday.

The city of Les Cayes, home to about 100,000 people, is the urban centre most affected by the powerful quake, which has caused the worst damage on the country's southwestern peninsula.

The latest official report puts the death toll at 1,297 and the number of injured at least 5,700 nationwide, but most of the victims are concentrated in the southern department, whose capital is Les Cayes, some 30 kilometres from the epicentre.

Some 30,000 families are affected in this area after their homes collapsed or suffered severe structural damage in the quake, which was similar in magnitude to the January 2010 earthquake that destroyed much of the capital's metropolitan area, killing at least 300,000 people.

The damage is considerable in several localities in the area, one of the most remote and poorest in Haiti, and several villages in the region have been practically cut off due to damage to roads and bridges.

El hotel "Petit Pas" se ve dañado por el terremoto el 14 de agosto de 2021 en Les Cayes, suroeste de Haití
AFP/STANLEY LOUIS - The "Petit Pas" hotel is damaged by the earthquake on 14 August 2021 in Les Cayes, southwest Haiti.
Different management than in 2010

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, the country's highest authority after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on 7 July, promised that the official response to the earthquake will be "more adequate" than that which followed the devastating 2010 quake.

To this end, he announced that all aid arriving from abroad must be coordinated by the Civil Protection department, which is also leading rescue operations.

"We don't want (aid) to arrive in disarray," Henry said, alluding to the chaotic distribution of international aid after the earthquake eleven years ago, which led to the misappropriation of millions in funds, managed by hundreds of NGOs without any official control.

Paramédicos de la Cruz Roja llevan a una niña herida durante el terremoto de 7,2 grados en Les Cayes, Haití, el 14 de agosto de 2021
REUTERS/RALPH TEDY EROL - Red Cross paramedics carry a girl injured during the 7.2 earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, August 14, 2021
The arrival of aid

International aid began arriving in the country as early as Sunday, including a team of 65 rescuers from the United States, carrying 23,500 kilograms of specialised search tools and medical supplies.

Also this Sunday, the first convoys of humanitarian aid sent from Port-au-Prince arrived by land in Les Cayes, after Civil Protection teams managed to unblock National Highway 2, which links the capital with this region, although the aftershocks of the earthquake have caused further cuts in several roads.

At the same time, the prime minister travelled to Les Cayes and visited several hospitals in the city to see first-hand the situation of medical care for the injured.

There, he reported that the most seriously injured are being airlifted to medical centres in other cities, mostly to Port-au-Prince, to relieve the pressure on the city's hospitals.

Henry stressed that the country needs urgent help to treat the injured, as well as logistical and medical support to try to rescue as many victims as possible.

Un grupo de personas recupera el cuerpo de Jean Gabriel Fortune, un antiguo legislador y ex alcalde de Les Cayes, de entre los escombros del Hotel Le Manguier destruido por el terremoto en Les Cayes, Haití, el sábado 14 de agosto de 2021
REUTERS/RALPH TEDY EROL - People recover the body of Jean Gabriel Fortune, a former lawmaker and former mayor of Les Cayes, from the rubble of the earthquake-destroyed Hotel Le Manguier in Les Cayes, Haiti, Saturday Aug. 14, 2021
Tropical cyclone approaching

Rescue operations are working around the clock ahead of Monday's arrival of tropical cyclone Grace, which is expected to bring 75 to 100 millimetres of rain and strong gusts of wind throughout the day.

In the last few hours Grace has been downgraded from a storm to a tropical depression, but in any case the authorities have warned that the rain and wind could make rescue work more difficult, as well as creating new dangerous situations.

Vista aérea del Hotel Le Manguier destruido por un terremoto, en Les Cayes, Haití, el sábado 14 de agosto de 2021. Un terremoto de 7,2 grados de magnitud sacudió Haití el sábado, con el epicentro a unos 125 kilómetros (78 millas) al oeste de la capital de Puerto Príncipe
REUTERS/RALPH TEDY EROL - An aerial view of the earthquake-destroyed Hotel Le Manguier, in Les Cayes, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday, with the epicentre about 125 kilometres (78 miles) west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday.
An emergency in the midst of political crisis

The earthquake comes in the midst of a difficult context for Haiti, which has been going through a delicate political and economic crisis since 2018, aggravated by the assassination on 7 July of President Jovenel Moise, perpetrated, according to the enquiries, by a commando of 26 mercenaries who broke into his residence in Port-au-Prince.

Aware of this reality, Henry, in office since 20 July, called on his compatriots on Sunday to forget "disputes" and unite to deal with the damage caused by the quake.

Henry told a press conference that "we are living through a difficult period", so it is "time to unite" and have "greater solidarity with the people most affected".