Amid an ongoing political crisis brought about by the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last month, Haiti was hit by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake — one of the most powerful temblors in the western hemisphere this century. It follows a 7.0 earthquake that struck the country in 2010, resulting in more than a quarter-million deaths. At least 1800 were injured in the latest calamity.
To add to the tragedy, a tropical storm is headed Haiti’s way that could cause massive flooding among the ruins.
Haiti struck by deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake https://t.co/EOKGZPNtgj
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 15, 2021
Haiti earthquake: Buildings reduced to rubble after 7.2 magnitude shock https://t.co/ZPvqW1HyrO
— The Independent (@Independent) August 15, 2021
Hundreds were killed or injured, and more are missing after a major earthquake struck southwestern Haiti, reducing churches, hotels and homes to rubble https://t.co/SMIURCYsZY pic.twitter.com/PClHUOHxnL
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 15, 2021
Residents shared images on social media of the ruins of concrete buildings, which AFP reports included a church in which a ceremony was apparently underway in the southwestern town of Les Anglais. Part of the Sacred Heart church in Les Cayes and the home of the bishop there also collapsed.
People in the capital city of Port-au-Prince felt the tremor and many rushed into the streets in fear.
Naomi Verneus, a 34-year-old resident of Port-au-Prince, said she was jolted awake by the earthquake and that her bed was shaking.
“I woke up and didn’t have time to put my shoes on. We lived the 2010 earthquake and all I could do was run. I later remembered my two kids and my mother were still inside. My neighbor went in and told them to get out. We ran to the street,” Verneus said.
Obviously, to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, Haiti is going to need a massive amount of aid. Before the UN can figure out how to botch the relief effort, U.S. aid groups are already working and organizing the aid pipeline.
scenes from Haiti 🇭🇹 after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake pic.twitter.com/IytBxMv7vn
— 🏝CARIBBEAN CULTURE ⓦ🏝〽️ (@westindimade) August 14, 2021
The Saturday quake struck in a less densely populated area of the country, but it was impossible to assess the full scope of casualties. Haiti’s embassy in the United States said in a statement that “the Haitian Government believes high casualties are probable given the earthquake’s magnitude.”
The Biden administration, the United Nations and private relief agencies that operate in Haiti promised urgent help.
Haiti is a failed state in every way — politically, economically, and socially. But that doesn’t mean we can abandon the 11 million people who live there. Private aid groups, as well as representatives from the U.S. government, are already hard at work assessing needs and providing assistance.
It won’t be enough. But they will save as many as possible doing the thankless task of relief work.