Haïti earthquake: 14 dead, hundreds hurt, toll to rise

  1. President Jovenel Moïse visits affected areas to coordinate help
  2. Country is torn between humanitarian and political crises

At least 14 people are dead and several hundred injured after a devastating 5.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, shaking capital Port-au-Prince.

The Caribbean nation, located just outside the Pacific’s deadly Ring of Fire, was struck by the quake at 12.11am BST on Sunday, 7 October with a depth of 10km.

Crumbling buildings and damage to vehicles and walls were visible after the devastating quake, which has injured up to 135 people.

The quake’s epicentre was located around 12 miles (20 km) west-northwest of Port-de-Paix, off Haiti’s north coast.

Haitian head of state Jovenel Moise, the prime minister and members of the government visited, on 7 October, cities of the departments of North, Northwest and Artibonite, the three regions most affected by the earthquake.

Police chief for the north-west region Jackson Hilaire initially confirmed seven people died in Port-de-Paix while the interior minister, Reynaldo Brunet, said three people had died further south in the town of Gros Morne.

Tony Mondestin, director for the ministry of health in the northwest, confirmed that the quake had created a panic inside government-owned Immaculee de Port-de-Paix hospital, forcing injured residents to seek care at private hospitals after the staff fled.

Mondestin said his report indicates that 162 people suffered minor injuries in the northwest region and eight were seriously injured. Help arrived from Port-au-Prince including an ambulance, a surgeon, a nurse and medical supplies, he added.

“The only thing left to do now is install the tents and try to find a way to begin to serve the population,” said Mondestin. He said he was in the process of rounding up the hospital staff.

A port city, Port-de-Paix has a population of over 462,000 inhabitants. Mayor Josué Alusma is in the hiding, accused of orchestrating the death of one of two assistant mayors with a backhoe earlier this year. As as result, residents and public works employees were left to fend for themselves in the wake of the quake.

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