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Haiti Earthquake struck on August 14, 2021

An earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday morning about 7.5 miles northeast of Saint-Louis du Sud, which is about 100 miles southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince. The U.S. Geological Survey gave it a preliminary rating of 7.2 magnitude. (Image: USGS)

'High Casualties' Feared After 7.2-Magnitude Quake Hits Haiti

Tremor in the western part of the island nation is larger than the 2010 quake that unleashed widespread death and destruction.

Jon Queally

Fears of widespread death, injury, and damage took hold Saturday morning after a large earthquake struck western Haiti, tremors that impacted highly-populated areas and triggered an initial tsunami warning for coastal areas in the Caribbean that were subsequently deemed unnecessary.

According to an early analysis and alert on the quake issued by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): "High casualties are probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Past events with this alert level have required a national or international level response."

The initial estimate by USGS put the earthquake at 7.2 magnitute and Haiti's Civil Protection told CNN that fatalities and damage had occurred.

Noting the earthquake event on its site, the U.S. Tsunami Warning Sytem run by NOAA and the National Weather Service said Saturday that there was "no tsunami warning, advisory, watch, or threat"—despite earlier and initial concerns.

ITV News reports:

People in the capital 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," Ms Verneus said.

The New York Times add:

At least two cities reported major devastation: Les Cayes and Jeremie. Phone lines were down in Petit Trou de Nippes, the epicenter of the quake, and no news emerged immediately from that city, leaving Haitian officials to fear for the worst.

"Many houses fell. Many people are trapped under the rubble," said Widchell Augustin, 35, from Les Cayes, where he lives. "We can hear people screaming under the rubble. People are running back-and-forth to the hospital."

Videos emerged with people still in their pajamas or bath towels, out in the street seeking refuge from their violently trembling homes, assessing the devastation, many screaming. Entire three-story buildings were flattened to eye-level; another video showed a group of men sifting through rubble and trying to remove debris to extract someone stuck underneath.

On social media, video footage emerged from various towns across the region, including Les Cayes, on the south-west coast—where a reported broken water pipe sent people running in fear—and Pestel on the northern coast, where buildings were damaged and the injured were being brought to local hospitals:

Saturday's quake—more powerful than the 7.0 earthquake that devastated the island nation in 2010 and killed well over 100,000 people—comes in the midst of deep political turmoil in the country following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July.

"We're concerned that this earthquake is just one more crisis on top of what the country is already facing—including the worsening political stalemate after the president's assassination, COVID and food insecurity," Jean-Wickens Merone, a spokesman with World Vision Haiti, said in a statement.

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