A powerful earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday morning, killing at least 304 people and leaving hundreds of others hurt, authorities said. The 7.2 magnitude quake was strong enough to be felt in neighboring countries.
Haitian officials said more than 1,800 people were injured in the disaster, some of whom were being treated in hospitals in the three most affected communities.
The epicenter of the quake was 7.5 miles northeast of Saint-Louis du Sud, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That’s about 78 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince.
“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.” A tsunami warning was issued immediately after the quake but later lifted.
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.
Haiti was previously devastated by a massive earthquake on January 12, 2010, which was one of the deadliest natural disasters in the history of the Western Hemisphere. That magnitude 7.0 quake near Port-au-Prince killed an estimated 250,000 people, and the island is still recovering.