Officials in Haiti have confirmed at least 1,297 people are dead after a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the Caribbean nation on Saturday. Rescuers are picking through rubble in a desperate search for any survivors. The quake was followed by a series of aftershocks, and Tropical Storm Grace is forecast to hit the crisis-prone nation on Monday.
The quake hit 7.5 miles northeast of the town of Saint-Luis du Sud on the country’s southwestern Tiburon Peninsula. Homes, churches and schools were among buildings flattened in the quake. An unknown number of people are missing and about 5,700 have been injured, officials say. It also caused a large landslide that blocked the main road from Les Cayes to Jeremie on the southwestern tip of the island. The south-west of Haiti appears to have suffered the worst of the damage, especially around the city of Les Cayes. Footage on social media showed residents desperately trying to pull victims from ruined buildings. Some hospitals were left overwhelmed and in need of supplies. 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. But the tremor could be felt in the densely-populated capital of Port-au-Prince, some 125km away, and in neighbouring countries.
The international community has promised to help the affected Haiti. The U.S. deployed search and rescue teams to help find survivors among the debris of collapsed buildings in Haiti as the death toll soars from Saturday’s massive earthquake. The neighbouring Dominican Republic has offered to send food and medical equipment, with Cuba also reportedly deploying more than 250 doctors.