Almost 1,300 people are confirmed dead after the massive earthquake that struck Haiti on Saturday. But as rescue crews dig through the rubble of countless flattened buildings, many fear the actual death toll will be much higher.
As of Sunday night, the official toll stands at 1,297 dead and 5,700 injured. The 7.2-magnitude quake damaged every type of building, including schools, hospitals, churches and prisons. Thousands of houses have been destroyed.
And the poor island nation is bracing for another battering, as Tropical Depression Grace threatens to bring heavy rains and potential mudslides on Monday.
According to Haiti’s civil protection service, 1,054 deaths have been reported in the southern part of Haiti, while there have been 122 in Nippes, 119 in Grand’Anse, and two in the northwest.
The prime minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry, said he was rushing aid to areas where towns were destroyed and hospitals overwhelmed with patients. A former senator rented a private plane to move injured people from Les Cayes to Port-au-Prince for medical assistance.
State of emergency in Haiti
Henry declared a one-month state of emergency for the whole country and said he would not ask for international help until the extent of damage was known.
“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” said Henry. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded people.”
Rescue workers and bystanders were able to pull many people to safety.
Chandler said a partial survey of structural damage found at least 860 destroyed homes and more than 700 damaged. Hospitals, schools, offices and churches were also affected.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in America are supporting search and rescue operations, as well as assisting with first aid and shelter. Priorities also include guaranteeing access to water and sanitation, while also keeping people safe from COVID-19, the group said.
Aid organizations in Haiti have warned that the death toll is likely to increase. “The damage is enormous and people are working with all their might to get as many people as possible out of the rubble,” the Netherlands Red Cross said earlier on Sunday. “The misery is not over yet.”
At the request of the Haitian government, the US has sent a 65-person urban search and rescue team to assist in search operations, said USAID administrations Samantha Power. That team joins a US earthquake disaster response team already on the ground. Several Latin American countries say they’re also preparing to send humanitarian aid to Haiti.
Greece stands with Caribbean nation
The Greek Foreign Ministry on Sunday sent its condolences to the families of the victims of the strong earthquake that hit Haiti.
“Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the severe earthquake that hit Haiti. We extend heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families. At this difficult time, Greece stands with the Haitian people & government, the Foreign Ministry posted on Twitter.