PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Aug 15, 2021 - As the death toll from a devastating earthquake in Haiti rose to 1,297 on Sunday, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has expressed its deep saddeness at reports of loss of life and significant damage in Haiti following a major earthquake on Saturday, 14 August.
The Chairman of CARICOM, the Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda has held discussions with the Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry and has assured him that CARICOM stands ready to assist.
Prime Minister Browne extended his sympathy to Prime Minister Henry and to the people of Haiti on the loss of life, and expressed his wishes for a full and speedy recovery of the injured.
The 7.2 magnitude quake struck on Saturday morning 12km (7.4 miles) northeast of Saint-Louis du Sud, on Haiti’s southern Tiburon Peninsula, at a shallow depth of 10km (6.2 miles), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported. It destroyed thousands of homes and buildings in a Caribbean nation which is still clawing its way back from the earthquake which reeked devastation11 years ago and is reeling from the assassination of its president last month.
Homes, other buildings and infrastructure have been destroyed, particularly in the southwestern cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is in contact with Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency which is assessing the damage.
Southwestern Haiti bore the brunt of the blow, especially in the region in and around the town of Les Cayes. 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 with some 5,700 injured people registered so far.
The challenge facing Haiti has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, a severe economic downturn aggravated by fierce gang violence, and a political crisis that has engulfed the troubled nation after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7.
In Les Cayes, a seafront town of some 90,000 people, rescuers pulled bodies from the wreckage of one buildings, as Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who had flown to Les Cayes appealed to rescuers to unift their efforts.
"We must work together to provide rapid and effective responses to this extremely serious situation," said Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who had flown to Les Cayes.
Haiti’s new prime minister declared a one-month state of emergency after what he described on Twitter as a “violent quake” and said he would mobilise all available government resources to help victims.
“We will make the necessary arrangements to assist those affected by the earthquake,” Henry tweeted. “The government will declare a state of emergency. We will act quickly.”
Nearby countries, including the Dominican Republic and Mexico, rushed to send desperately needed food and medicines by air and across Haiti's land border.