Many feared dead after Haiti hit by 7.2-magnitude earthquake

Le Tiburon, Haiti - A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti on Saturday and jolted islands across the region.

Haiti was hit by a catastrophic 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Saturday. The nation has been jolted by crisis in recent years, including a devestating earthquake in 2010.
Haiti was hit by a catastrophic 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Saturday. The nation has been jolted by crisis in recent years, including a devestating earthquake in 2010.  © IMAGO / Aton Chile

The temblor quickly evoked comparisons to the slightly less powerful, but cataclysmic, earthquake that hit in 2010 and killed more than 220,000 people, a disaster Haiti is still recovering from.

The scale of the devastation from the Saturday morning quake that shook the south-west of Haiti the hardest was still being assessed.

But there were fears many could be dead after reports emerged of people being buried under rubble in at least one city. Social media users posted pictures of debris and destroyed buildings at several sites.

Biden administration re-designates TPS for Haiti as immigrants' rights activists demand more
Migration Biden administration re-designates TPS for Haiti as immigrants' rights activists demand more

The Gazette Haiti reported five deaths so far, including two children, in the southern town of Aquin, as well as many injured there.

A witness from Les Cayes, one of the largest cities in the country, told the Haiti Press Network of collapsed houses and hotels, with people buried beneath the rubble.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) put the epicenter on Haiti's Tiburon peninsula, about 78 miles west of the capital Port-au-Prince, striking at a shallow depth of 10 kilometers, or six miles.

The USGS noted that "the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking," with many of the dwellings made of mud bricks.

The quake hit at 8:29 AM and was also felt in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the Dominican newspaper Diario Libre reported. Jamaica, hundreds of miles away, was also reportedly rattled.

The US Tsunami Warning System issued a tsunami warning in the wake of the quake that quickly lifted.

Haiti has been the epicenter of turmoil

The St. Christophe settlement at Titanyen is the site of over 10,000 victims buried in mass graves after Haiti's 2010 earthquake.
The St. Christophe settlement at Titanyen is the site of over 10,000 victims buried in mass graves after Haiti's 2010 earthquake.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Press

Haiti, considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is still living with the impact of the January 12, 2010 magnitude-7.0 earthquake that left some 220,000 people dead and 1 million people homeless. Damage from the quake, which struck near the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince, was estimated at $8 billion.

The USGS said Saturday's tremor, which also triggered smaller aftershocks, likely took place within the same tectonic fault system as the one that hit more than a decade ago.

Bocchit Edmond, Haiti's ambassador to the US, posted on Twitter: "The January 12 of 2010 feelings are back to hunt us. Natural disaster continues to assault Haiti. Let’s bring our solidarity to our brothers and sisters in the great south."

Supreme Court set to hear case that could blow up US election laws
US politics Supreme Court set to hear case that could blow up US election laws

Hurricane Matthew ripped through Haiti's southern peninsula in 2016, causing massive damage to homes and infrastructure.

The country has also been in the throes of political turmoil since the assassination of Jovenel Moise in July. He was shot dead in a middle-of-the-night attack at his residence by a heavily armed commando force.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Aton Chile

More on the topic: