304 dead, 1,800 injured as quake slams Haiti

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Port-au-Prince

A powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake which struck Haiti on Saturday, killed at least 304 people, injuring 1,800 others and destroying hundreds of homes.

People in the Caribbean island nation rushed into the streets to seek safety and to help rescue those trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes, hotels and other structures, partially published yesterday.

The earthquake struck the southwestern part of the hemisphere’s poorest nation, almost razing some towns and triggering landslides that hampered rescue efforts in two of the hardest-hit communities.

The disaster also added to the plight of Haitians, who were already grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, a presidential assassination and deepening poverty.

The epicentre of the quake was about 125 kilometres west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, the US Geological Survey said.

The widespread damage could worsen by early next week, with Tropical Storm Grace predicted to reach Haiti late Monday or early Tuesday. Aftershocks were felt throughout the day and late into the night, when many people now homeless or frightened by the possibility of their fractured homes collapsing on them stayed in the streets to sleep — if their nerves allowed them.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he was rushing aid to areas where towns were destroyed and hospitals overwhelmed with incoming patients.

A former senator rented a private airplane to move injured people from Les Cayes to Port-au-Prince for medical assistance.

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.—AP

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