An earthquake shook parts of western Haiti on Tuesday, killing at least four people and injuring three dozen others, authorities said, and other victims fear they could be trapped under the rubble.
The magnitude 4.9 earthquake occurred just after 0500 (0900 GMT) about 9 kilometers off the coast of the isolated department of Grand’Anse, about 185 miles west of Port-au-Prince, according to the US Geological Survey. .
The Haitian Red Cross said rescuers were looking for people who may still be trapped under the ruins.
“Efforts continue to find survivors,” the group said.
The majority of the victims lived in the poor district of Sainte-Hélène, in the commune of Jérémie, where an AFP photographer saw several cracked houses.
Three of the dead “are members of the same family and were killed when their house collapsed,” Christine Monquele, head of civil protection for Grand’Anse, told AFP.
“I don’t know what to do,” said Katiana Pierre, a 19-year-old who lost her husband and little sister in the earthquake.
– ‘I lost everything’ –
At least 36 people were reportedly injured.
“We were able to administer first aid to the victims,” said Soitmil Lorreus, head of emergency services at Saint-Antoine public hospital. Some patients were flown to the capital, and Lorreus said the hospital expected to receive more patients from the countryside.
A man, speaking from his hospital bed in a video shared by local media outlet JCOM Haiti, recalled how his neighbors and his wife helped him save his two children.
But his wife did not make it out alive.
“At dawn, I heard a deafening noise,” he says. “My wife, with a start, asked me to fetch the children from their room. With the help of neighbors, I was able to save the two children, but unfortunately my wife died.
“The house was completely destroyed. I lost everything.”
Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in New York that the world body was “deeply saddened by the loss of life, destruction of property and suffering of the Haitian people caused by the earthquake. earthen”.
The quake comes just days after severe storms hit Haiti – the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere – leaving at least 51 people dead and 18 missing, according to a civil defense report cited by the United Nations. United on Tuesday.
The Caribbean nation is regularly hit by destructive earthquakes.
“The UN stands ready to work with the Haitian authorities and other partners to help alleviate the suffering of those in need in relation to the earthquake and of course, the other natural disaster of flooding and landslides that we have seen in the past few days,” Dujarric said.
He added that the World Food Program is ready to distribute some 350,000 meals and other food aid to people in need.
But he said relief efforts are hampered by insecurity and damage to roads, an apparent reference to the swirling gang violence in the country.
In 2010, a massive 7.0 earthquake killed more than 200,000 people in Haiti, turning the capital Port-au-Prince into rubble and leaving 1.5 million homeless.
In August 2021, the southwestern peninsula was ravaged by an even stronger 7.2 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people and destroyed 130,000 homes.