Deadly earthquake hits Haiti: “High casualties are probable”

A powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and authorities reported multiple deaths. The U.S. Tsunami Warning System temporarily issued a tsunami warning, which was later lifted. The quake was powerful enough to be felt in neighboring countries.

Jerry Chandler, Haiti’s director of civil protection, told The Associated Press that the death toll stood at 29 and that teams will be sent to the area for search and rescue missions.

The epicenter of the quake was 7.5 miles northeast of Saint-Louis du Sud, according to the USGS.

“High casualties are probable and the disaster is likely widespread,” the USGS said. “Past events with this alert level have required a national or international level response.”

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.

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,” Verneus said.

Haiti Earthquake
Sacred Heart church in Les Cayes, Haiti, is damaged after an earthquake on Saturday, August 14, 2021. Delot Jean / AP

The National Hurricane Center has forecasted that Tropical Storm Grace will reach Haiti late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.  

On January 12, 2010, a massive, magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, one of the deadliest natural disasters in the history of the Western Hemisphere. The quake killed an estimated 250,000 and the island is still recovering.