Biden authorises immediate US response for Haiti after 7.2 quake; death toll near 227

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Biden authorises immediate US response for Haiti after 7.2 quake; death toll near 227

US President Joe Biden has authorised an “immediate US response” to help Haiti and said USAID would work to support efforts to “assess the damage and assist efforts to recover those who were injured and those who must now rebuild”.

A 7.2-magnitude quake hit the west of Haiti on Saturday morning, toppling and damaging buildings including churches and hotels.

At least 227 people have died thus far.

Biden said, “In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake.”

The USGS earlier warned that the earthquake could result in thousands of fatalities and injuries. It also said at least six aftershocks had been felt in the region including one measuring 5.1 magnitude.

The epicentre of Saturday’s quake was about 12km (7.5 miles) from the town of Saint-Louis du Sud, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The tremor was felt in the densely-populated capital of Port-au-Prince, some 125km away, and in neighbouring countries.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he had mobilised a team to work on the relief effort.

“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” he said. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.”

Mr Henry later revealed he had flown in a plane over the city of Cayes.

Frantz Duval, editor-in-chief of Haiti’s Le Nouvelliste newspaper, tweeted that two hotels were among the buildings destroyed in the town of Les Cayes. He said the local hospital was overwhelmed.

“Slowly, strongly and for very long seconds the earth shook in Haiti on 14 August, 2021 around 8:30 am,” he wrote.