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The death toll for a major earthquake in Haiti rises to 1,297

Les Cayes (Haiti): The death toll from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti rose to 1,297 on Sunday, a day after the powerful storm turned rubble into thousands of structures and set in motion a violent rescue effort ahead of a potential deluge from an approaching tropical storm. Saturday’s earthquake also left at least 5,700 people injured in the Caribbean nation, with thousands more displaced from their destroyed or damaged homes.Read also – 7.2 magnitude earthquake Hits Haiti, 29 dead; Biden announces assistance

Survivors in some areas were forced to wait outside in the open air under oppressive heat for help from congested hospitals. Still, the devastation may soon get worse with the upcoming Tropical Depression Grace, which is expected to reach Haiti on Monday night. The U.S. National Hurricane Center degraded the tropical storm to a depression Sunday, but forecasters warned that Grace still posed a threat of bringing heavy rains, floods and landslides. Read also – Earthquakes of magnitude 3.8 on the Richter scale hit Dehradun

The quake hit the southwestern part of the hemisphere’s poorest nation, nearly raging some cities and triggering landslides that hampered rescue efforts in a country already battling the coronavirus pandemic, a presidential assassination and a wave of gang violence. The epicenter was about 125 kilometers west of the capital Port-au-Prince, according to the US Geological Survey, and aftershocks continued to hit the area on Sunday. Also read – BREAKING: 3.2 magnitude earthquake Assams Morigaon

In the badly damaged coastal town of Les Cayes, Jennie Auguste lay on a flimsy foam mattress on the asphalt of the local community’s small airport, waiting for something – a place in a hospital or a small plane like those that ferry the wounded to the capital.

She sustained injuries to her chest, abdomen and arm when the roof of the store she worked at collapsed. “It simply came to our notice then. No help, nothing from the government, “said Auguste’s sister, Bertrande. In scenes widespread throughout the region affected by the earthquake, other families salvaged their few belongings and spent the night on an outdoor football field.

Sunday morning, people stood in line to buy the little that was available: bananas, avocados and water at a local street market. Some in the city praised God for surviving the earthquake, and many went to the city’s cathedral, which seemed outwardly undamaged even though the priests ’residence was destroyed.

“We only have Jesus now,” said Johanne Dorcely, 58, whose house was destroyed. “If it were not for Jesus, I would not be able to be here today.” Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared a month of state of emergency for the whole country, saying he was rushing aid to areas where cities were destroyed and hospitals overwhelmed.

A former senator rented a private plane to move injured from Les Cayes to Port-au-Prince for medical attention. “The most important thing is to restore as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” Henry said. “We have learned that the local hospitals, especially Les Cayes, are overwhelmed by injured, broken people.”

Sunday’s count from Haiti’s civil protection office increased Saturday’s death toll from 304 dead. The agency said more than 7,000 homes were destroyed and nearly 5,000 were damaged. Hospitals, schools, offices and churches were also affected. Hospitals were overwhelmed at a time when Haiti has struggled with the pandemic and lack of resources to deal with it.

The country of 11 million people received its first batch of US-donated coronavirus vaccines last month alone through a UN program on low-income countries.

Medical workers from across the region struggled to help as hospitals in Les Cayes began to run out of space to perform surgeries.

“Basically, they need everything,” said Dr. Inobert Pierre, a pediatrician at nonprofit Health Equity International, who oversees St. Boniface Hospital, approximately two hours from Les Cayes.

“Many of the patients have open wounds and they have been exposed to not-so-clean elements,” added Pierre, who visited two hospitals in Les Cayes — one with about 200 patients, the other with about 90. “We expect a lot from infections. ”

Pierre’s medical team took some patients to St. Boniface Hospital to be operated on, but with only two ambulances, they could transport only four patients at a time.

Small planes from a private company and Florida-based missionary service Agape Flights landed at Port-Au-Prince airport on Sunday with about half a dozen injured earthquake victims from the Les Cayes area. Young men with bandages and a woman were hoisted on stretchers to waiting Haitian Red Cross ambulances.

Silvestre Plaza Rico, which oversaw one of the volunteer flights, said rescue planes had made several air lifts with about half a dozen injured victims each Saturday. “There were many, many, many from different cities,” Plaza Rico said.

The quake also hit just over a month after President Jovenel Moïse was shot dead in his home, sending the country into political chaos. His widow, Martine Moïse, who was seriously injured in the attack, posted a message on Twitter calling for agreement among Haitians: “Let’s shrug our shoulders to create solidarity.”

As he boarded a plane en route to Les Cayes, Henry said he wanted “structured solidarity” to ensure the response was coordinated to avoid the confusion that followed the devastating 2010 earthquake, in which aid was slow. to reach the residents after.

US President Joe Biden authorized an immediate response and named USAID Administrator Samantha Power to oversee US efforts to help Haiti. Power announced Sunday that USAID was sending a search and rescue team from Virginia at the request of the Haitian government.

The 65-person team will bring special tools and medical supplies to help with emergency preparedness, Power said on Twitter. In cooperation with USAID, the US Coast Guard said a helicopter was transporting medical personnel from the Haitian capital to the quake zone and evacuating the wounded back to Port-au-Prince. Lieutenant Commander Jason Nieman, a spokesman, said another helicopter was sent from the Bahamas along with other planes and ships.

Already on the scene were several members of Cuba’s 253 members health mission to Haiti, and the state media of the socialist nation showed photos of those providing first aid to victims injured by the earthquake.

The North Carolina-based aid group Samaritan’s Purse announced Sunday that it would fly 13 emergency response specialists and 31 tons of emergency supplies to Haiti. These include household materials and water filtration units. Humanitarian workers said gang activity in the coastal district of Martissant, just west of the Haitian capital, also complicated relief efforts.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement that Haiti’s southern peninsula is a “hotspot for gang-related violence” in which humanitarian workers have been repeatedly attacked, including a medical center for borderless doctors, targeted in June.

The agency said the area has been “virtually inaccessible” over the past two months due to roadblocks and safety issues.

“All of these factors combined will create significant logistical challenges in reaching the most affected areas,” according to the agency, adding that shifts “have created mature conditions for an increase in COVID-19 infections.”

Haiti, where many live in difficult conditions, is vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes. A 5.9 magnitude earthquake in 2018 killed more than a dozen people. The magnitude 7.0 earthquake in 2010 struck closer to densely populated Port-au-Prince, causing extensive damage. The Haitian government put the death toll at more than 300,000, while a report commissioned by the US government placed it between 46,000 and 85,000.

On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the Haiti people, including prayers for the victims and encouragement for survivors. The pope called for solidarity in the international community “to alleviate the consequences of the tragedy.”

(By Evens Sanon and Collin Binkley from AP)

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