The toll due to earthquake in Haiti rose to 724 on Sunday, AFP reported, citing government data. Rescue and search operations were underway as a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the Caribbean country on Saturday. More than 1,800 people have been injured, according to AP.
The epicentre of the quake was about 125 kilometres west of the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince. The damage could worsen by early next week, with a tropical storm “Grace” predicted to hit the country late Monday or early Tuesday.
The Haitian government declared a state of emergency for a month in response to the disaster. “We need to show a lot of solidarity with the emergency,” Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said, according to Reuters.
Henry has been at the forefront of the country’s affairs since the assassination of its President Jovenel Moise on July 7.
Several aftershocks have been felt on Saturday and Sunday since the major quake, which completely razed some towns and triggered landslides.
“More or less intensive aftershocks are to be expected for a month,” a Haitian civil engineer and geologist warned. He added that badly damaged building during the earthquake could collapse during the aftershocks.
“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” the prime minister said, according to AP. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes [town], are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.”
United States President Joe Biden authorised an immediate response. He also named United States Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power as the senior official coordinating the country’s effort to help Haiti.
Other neighbouring countries Jamaica, Cuba, Chile and Argentina have also offered help.