PORT-AU-PRINCE/HAVANA (REUTERS, AFP) – A major earthquake struck western Haiti on Saturday (Aug 14) and was felt across the Caribbean, where people fled their homes and scores dead from the quake.
“I can confirm that there are deaths, but I don’t yet have an exact toll,” Jerry Chandler, Haiti’s director of civil protection, told AFP. “We’re still collecting information.”
He said the country’s emergency operations center had been activated and Prime Minister Ariel Henry was headed there.
The magnitude 7.2 earthquake quake struck 8km from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, about 150km west of the capital Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 10km, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
The USGS has also issued a red alert for fatalities, saying that high casualties are probable and that the disaster is likely to be widespread.
The US Tsunami Warning System has issued a tsunami alert in the wake of the earthquake, saying that waves of up to three meters were possible along the coastline of Haiti.
The country is still recovering from a magnitude seven earthquake closer to the capital 11 years ago that killed tens if not hundreds of thousands of people and flattened swathes of buildings, leaving many homeless.
“Everyone is really afraid. It’s been years since such a big earthquake,” said Mr Daniel Ross, a resident in the eastern Cuban city of Guantanamo, adding that his home stood firm but the furniture shook.
The quake damaged schools as well as homes on Haiti’s south-western peninsula, according to images from witnesses.
Residents shared images on social media of the ruins of concrete buildings, including a church in which a ceremony was apparently underway on Saturday in the southwestern town of Les Anglais.
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