Un earthquake killed at least four people and injured 36 on Tuesday in western Haiti, Civil Protection announced, as the country was already facing deadly floods.
In the city of Jérémie, many houses were cracked, noted an AFP photographer, while the few houses destroyed had obviously been built without respecting construction standards.
“I don’t know what to do,” Katiana Pierre, a 19-year-old woman who lost her husband and little sister in the disaster, told AFP.
Three of the deceased “are members of the same family and were killed because of the collapse of their house”, Christine Monquélé, head of Civil Protection in the department of Grand’Anse, told AFP.
The earthquake, of magnitude 4.9 according to the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS), occurred shortly after 0500 (0900 GMT) about 9 km from the coast in the southwestern peninsula of this Caribbean country regularly hit by destructive earthquakes.
“We were able to administer first aid to the victims. Some patients were airlifted to the capital. We have at least one patient in critical condition who is in intensive care,” Soitmil Lorreus, head of emergency services, told AFP. Saint-Antoine public hospital, which said it expected to receive more wounded from remote places.
Searches were held during the day to rescue any wounded trapped under the rubble. “Efforts continue to find survivors,” said the Haitian Red Cross.
The majority of the victims live in the Sainte Hélène district, a poor district of Jérémie.
“At dawn, I heard a deafening noise. My wife, with a start, asked me to fetch the children from their room. With the help of neighbors, I was able to save the two children, but unfortunately my wife died. The house was completely destroyed. I lost everything,” said a 40-year-old from his hospital bed, in a video shared by the online media JCOM Haiti.
“We are saddened by the loss of life, the destruction, as well as by the suffering of the Haitian population caused by the earthquake,” commented in New York Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The southwestern peninsula of Haiti had already been devastated in August 2021 by a powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.2 which killed more than 2,200 people and caused the destruction of more than 130,000 homes.
In 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake killed more than 200,000 people in the country. The earthquake had transformed the capital Port-au-Prince into a field of ruins and put 1.5 million people on the streets.
Severe weather also hit the country over the past weekend, leaving at least 51 dead, 18 missing and 140 injured, according to a new report from the Haitian authorities quoted by the UN on Tuesday.
Dujarric said the World Food Program was preparing to distribute some 350,000 meals and other food aid “to those most in need”.
But “insecurity and road damage are hampering aid operations,” he said, as the country is plagued by gang violence.
07/06/2023 01:21:19 – Jérémie (Haiti) (AFP) – © 2023 AFP
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