Stamford Advocate (Sunday)

7.2-magnitude earthquake hits Haiti; at least 304 killed

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — At least 304 people were killed and hundreds were injured and missing after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday, and Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he was rushing aid to areas where towns were destroyed and hospitals overwhelme­d with incoming patients.

The epicenter of the quake was about 78 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and widespread damage was reported.

Haiti’s civil protection agency said that the death toll stood at 304 and that search teams would be sent to the area. Rescue workers and bystanders were able to pull many people to safety from the rubble, the agency said Saturday afternoon on Twitter. It said injured people were still being brought to hospitals.

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. He said some towns were almost completely razed and the government had people in the coastal town of Les Cayes to help plan and coordinate the response.

“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” said Henry. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelme­d with wounded, fractured people.“

He said the Internatio­nal Red Cross and hospitals in unaffected areas were helping to care for the injured, and appealed to Haitians for unity.

“The needs are enormous. We must take care of the injured and fractured, but also provide food, aid, temporary shelter and psychologi­cal support,” he said.

Later, as he boarded a plane bound for Les Cayes, Henry said he wanted “structured solidarity” to ensure the response was coordinate­d to avoid the confusion that followed the devastatin­g 2010 earthquake, when aid was slow to reach residents after as many as 300,000 were killed.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris received a briefing on Saturday morning about the Haiti earthquake, according to the White House. Biden authorized an immediate response and named USAID Administra­tor Samantha Power as the senior official coordinati­ng the effort.

A growing number of countries offered help, including Argentina and Chile, which said it was preparing to send humanitari­an aid. “Once again, Haiti has been hit by adversity,” Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said.

Among those killed in the earthquake was Gabriel Fortune, a longtime lawmaker and former mayor of Les Cayes. He died along with several others when his hotel, Le Manguier, collapsed, the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvellist­e reported.

 ?? Duples Plymouth / Associated Press ?? A woman stands in front of a destroyed home in the aftermath of an earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Saturday. A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday, with the epicenter about 78 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Duples Plymouth / Associated Press A woman stands in front of a destroyed home in the aftermath of an earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Saturday. A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday, with the epicenter about 78 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

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