Haiti, still grappling with a presidential assassination in July and an ongoing pandemic, was hit with an earthquake more powerful than the one in 2010 that killed more than 220,000 people.
The Saturday morning quake registered 7.2 on the Richter scale and was centered in the west of the island nation. Early reports spoke of toppled buildings, including churches and hotels, and the deaths of more than 300 people.
Catholic Relief Services responds to quake
“The earthquake mostly affected the southern peninsula (Sud, Nippes and Grand’Anse departments),” Akim K. Kikonda, Catholic Relief Services’ Country Representative in Haiti, told Aleteia Saturday afternoon. “Hospitals in the southern departments (Sud, Nippes and Grand’Anse) are overwhelmed and lack basic supplies to meet the needs of the injured. Because of the many houses damaged or completely destroyed, people will be sleeping outside. Our teams on the ground in the three departments are still assessing the situation but we anticipate our urgent needs to be for temporary shelter, water and hygiene to avoid the emergence of diseases. When the assessments are completed new needs may be identified.”
Haiti’s civil protection service said that hundreds of people were wounded or reported missing.
Catholic News Agency quoted Kikonda as saying that all CRS personnel are safe and sound, “but unfortunately the wife of one of our employees died and his baby is gravely injured.”
Cardinal Langlois suffers injury from earthquake
CNA also reported that Cardinal Chibly Langlois, Bishop of Les Cayes and president of Haiti’s Bishops’ Conference, was injured in the quake, and a priest died.
The earthquake struck at about 8:30 a.m., and was followed by several strong aftershocks and a tsunami warning. It was felt in Haiti’s capital city Port-au-Prince, some 80 miles to the east of the epicenter. There did not appear to be much damage there, however.
Potentially adding to the misery, a tropical storm — Grace — was expected to hit Haiti within days.