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Massive Earthquake Hits Haiti : Around 300 People Dead

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11 years after the earthquake that killed over 2 lakh people, another massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 struck Haiti on 14th August, Saturday, resulting in over 300 deaths and large-scale damage to the environment and property.

The epicenter of the earthquake was located 12 km north-east of Saint-Louis-du-Sud in Haiti. The shockwaves were felt in capital Port-au-Prince and in the neighboring countries of Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Bahamas. The capital city is located over 165 km away from the epicenter, with a population of roughly 28 lakh.

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The main wave occurred at 8:30 a.m. local time with strong aftershocks later in the day. The US Geological Survey (USGS) recorded the largest magnitude of these aftershocks to be 5.8 on the Richter scale.

With 1800 people injured and 304 dead, the Haitian government will be declaring a state of emergency for one month. The Prime Minister Ariel Henry has stated that medical needs are currently their “biggest urgency” while addressing the press. The government has started sending out medication and medical personnel to the affected areas. Alarmingly, the USGS has reported that the total number of casualties could be over a thousand.

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Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to a report by Opportunity International, 59% of its population lives under the national poverty line. The earthquake has now worsened its already impoverished condition by damaging 949 homes, seven churches, two hotels and three schools as per the Reuters report. As per the USGC, the Haitian population is at a risk of potential landslides and more aftershocks.

Response Over Social Media

In the aftermath of the earthquake, Instagram and Twitter has become saturated with alarming pictures and videos of people screaming, running in fear and collapsing buildings  as the earthquake waves slammed the region.

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“The situation is very-very bad because ninety percent of the houses have been destroyed and many people are on the street” , said Willy Elzy who has been rendered homeless with thousands of other citizens.

Another witness of the earthquake is 37 years old Philippe Boutin, a resident of Puerto Rico. Boutin had been visiting his family in Les Cayes when the earthquake hit. He luckily able to escape along with his mother before they incurred any physical harm. He added that the occurrence of the earthquake coincided with the reverential celebrations of the town’s patron saint. The festivities had caused large gatherings of people in the area, adding to the dense local population and increasing risks of injury.

International Aid

The United States and United Nations have promised immediate aid to the Haitian government. Further help at the global level is underway.

“In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti this morning,” Biden’s statement said, offering condolences to victims. (As reported by the New York Post)

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also tweeted, assuring that efforts were being made to support Haiti’s rescue and relief teams. UNICEF has been coordinating with the government and various non-governmental organizations to assess the damage and provide the help required. Various Non-Profit Organizations like Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) have been actively making efforts by undertaking several rescue missions.

Potential Danger

Haiti remains at risk of more aftershocks. The National Hurricane Center has also forecasted the upcoming tropical storm Grace that might hit Haiti by Monday night, making relief operations difficult and existing earthquake damages much worse.

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