As the grueling rescue work by local residents in collapsed buildings continues, 1,297 people have been killed, 5,700 injured and many more displaced following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake of Aug. 14.
It is estimated that thousands of homes have been destroyed, plunging the country into a humanitarian crisis of major proportions at a time when it was still trying to recover from the tragic earthquake that caused more than 300,000 deaths in 2010, reports AP on Aug. 16.
Haiti’s Civil Protection Office reported that more than 7,000 houses were destroyed, and there are almost 5,000 more damaged. Hospitals, schools, offices, and churches were also affected.
While international humanitarian aid shipments are being prepared to mitigate the tragedy, the desperation of the survivors is also causing them to risk their lives trying to rescue family members buried in the rubble.
Many hospital care facilities were severely damaged, and the number of injured people crowding those that remain standing exceeds the available care capacity.
“Many of the patients have open wounds and they have been exposed to not-so-clean elements,” related Dr. Inobert Pierre, a pediatrician with the nonprofit Health Equity International.
Pierre visited two hospitals in Les Cayes: one with about 200 patients and the other with about 90. He added: “We anticipate a lot of infections.”
For his part, Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared a one-month state of emergency for the entire country and reported on the dispatch of aid to the affected places.
“We salute the dignity, the resilience effort of the victims and their ability to start over. From my observations, I deduce that Haitians want to live and progress,” Henry said.
“Let us unite to offer these people a living environment conducive to development,” he added.
Also, USAID Administrator Samantha Power will oversee the humanitarian relief efforts provided by the Biden administration.
“I have authorized the deployment of USAID. A disaster assistance team will go to lead our response to today’s earthquake in Haiti. We are also coordinating with the Haitian government, through the Embassy in Haiti and others,” tweeted Power.
She added: “We are working quickly to help Haitians and save lives. The U.S. will help Haiti.”
Power announced Sunday that USAID was sending a search and rescue team from Virginia at the request of the Haitian government.
It will consist of 65 people, who will bring specialized tools and medical supplies to assist in the disaster response, Power said on Twitter.
The epicenter was located in the south of the country, about 80 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and aftershocks continued to occur the following day. One of the most affected localities was the coastal town of Les Cayes.
Worse still, the U.S. National Hurricane Center forecasts that Tropical Depression Grace is expected to reach Haiti on Monday night, the 16th. Although it would not have the strength of a tropical storm, it could bring heavy rains, flooding, and landslides.
In addition to the disaster caused by the earthquake, there is the damage caused by the Covid pandemic or CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the assassination of President Jovenel Moisey, and a wave of gang violence.
Haiti has a population of 11 million and only received its first batch of U.S.-donated coronavirus vaccines last month.