Haiti earthquake death toll climbs as tropical storm brings rains

Haiti – The death toll from the earthquake that hit Haiti at the weekend has risen by more than 500 to 1,941.

A man carries a coffin through the streets of Haiti after a devastating earthquake wreaked havoc on the country.
A man carries a coffin through the streets of Haiti after a devastating earthquake wreaked havoc on the country.  © IMAGO / Xinhua

The country's civil defense agency gave updated figures on Twitter Tuesday as rescue and recovery efforts continue.

More than 9,900 people were injured in the 7.2-magnitude quake that struck on Saturday morning.

On Tuesday morning, 16 people were rescued alive from the rubble of a former UN building in the village of Brefet, the civil defense agency said.

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Aid has also started to arrive in the earthquake region, with USAID saying it flew 52 people out for medical treatment. Hospitals in the area are overloaded and some were damaged in the quake.

The office of interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry said the humanitarian situation was very worrying.

Tropical Storm Grace hits Haiti

A man observes the wreckage of buildings while the rain falls during Tropical Storm Grace.
A man observes the wreckage of buildings while the rain falls during Tropical Storm Grace.  © IMAGO / Agencia EFE

There are now fears about the impact of heavy rainfall in the region.

The low-pressure system Grace responsible for the masses of rain strengthened into a tropical storm early on Tuesday and swept across the island of Hispaniola, where Haiti and the Dominican Republic are located, with sustained winds of 39 miles per hour, before it moved west towards Jamaica, the US hurricane center said.

Videos circulating on social media show flooded streets.

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In an emergency shelter in the town of Les Cayes on the Tiburon peninsula in south-western Haiti, the water was ankle-high, as could be seen in photos taken on Monday evening.

Completely soaked survivors of Saturday's quake visited the camp, carrying their belongings in bags on their heads, other pictures showed. Many people who had lost their homes were sleeping outside.

Many people were still believed to be under the rubble of the many destroyed buildings in the south of the country.

The quake occurred on Saturday morning near the municipality of Saint-Louis-du-Sud east of Les Cayes at a depth of about 6 miles.

According to the civil defense agency, at least 13,700 houses were destroyed and just as many damaged. More than 30,000 families were affected. According to the charity Caritas International, food, drinking water, tents, and first aid are needed most.

Haitian government promises to step up aid

The Haitian government has been criticized for not providing swift enough aid to its people.
The Haitian government has been criticized for not providing swift enough aid to its people.  © IMAGO / Xinhua

Haiti was ill-prepared for such as disaster, even after the devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 220,000 people.

In addition, there is a deep political crisis that intensified after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse by a commando force in his residence on July 7.

The lack of or damaged infrastructure is threatening to hamper rescue efforts after the new quake.

The Haitian human rights organization RNDDH slammed the government's response to the catastrophe as "total chaos."

"They are completely on their own," the organization said with regard to survivors, reporting that some were searching for tents as shelter from the storm on their own.

Interim premier Henry promised swifter aid on Monday.

"Aid management will be stepped up. We are going to increase our energies tenfold to reach the maximum number of victims possible," Henry wrote on Twitter.

He also ordered three days of national mourning from Tuesday.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Xinhua

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