A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked the western part of Haiti on Saturday, leaving nearly 230 people dead, multiple others injured and enormous damage in a country still reeling from the assassination of its president, an official said.
The death toll jumped from 29 to 227, according to Haiti’s Office of Civil Protection. Jerry Chandler, the agency’s director, said that teams will be sent to the area for search and rescue missions.
“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” said Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who declared a one-month state of emergency for the country. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.”
The quake’s epicenter was roughly 78 miles west of the captial of Port-au-Prince, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s website.
Civil protection officials tweeted that initial reports indicate homes collapsed during the quake.
“We will continue to inform you,” the tweet read.
Photos posted on social media showed buildings destroyed and rubble littered across the ground.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were briefed on the earthquake Saturday morning, a White House official told NBC News.
Biden authorized an immediate U.S. response, and named Samantha Power as the senior U.S. official to coordinate this effort. Power is the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has disaster crews on the ground.
The earthquake, which was felt in Port-au-Prince, had triggered a tsunami threat in the Caribbean country but it was later canceled.
Naomi Verneus, 34, who lives in 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,” she said. “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.”
(Read more at https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/7-2-magnitude-earthquake-strikes-haiti-after-another-quake-hits-n1276830)