Jérémie – On Saturday, August 14, 2021, a series of devastating earthquakes of magnitude greater than 5 on the Richter School struck southeastern Haiti. Many houses were damaged, with the provisional death toll estimated at 1,300 and the number of injured at 5,600. The first foreign aid has arrived in the country. However, there is a shortage of medicines and medical personnel.
At 8:29 a.m., an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale struck the department of Nippes (south-east). The epicentre was 20 km south of Petit Trou de Nippes and 121 km south-west of Port-au-Prince.
About 20 minutes later, at 8:49, a second earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale occurred 20 km north-north-west of Cavaillon (south). The epicentre was 20 km north-north-west of Cavaillon and 157 km south-west of Port-au-Prince.
Seven other earthquakes ranging from 3.8 to 4.6 on the Richter scale then shook the Petit-Trou-de-Nippes area during the day. Initial assessments show that the three departments most affected were Nippes, Grand’Anse and South, which account for approximately 16% of Haiti’s total population.
Damage is being reported from Jérémie, with some houses collapsing in the south. In Jérémie, the roof of the cathedral collapsed. In Grand’Anse, 3 health centres were damaged, 3 schools destroyed and 1 church damaged. In Nippes, a prison from which several prisoners escaped was damaged, a police station was damaged, 5 churches were damaged, 7 school buildings were damaged and several lighthouses and landslides are reported.
The provisional death toll is put at 724 (of which 500 in the south, 100 in Grand’Anse, 122 in Nippes and 2 in the north-west), as well as a total of 2 800 injured.
The local hospitals, especially the one in Les Cayes, are overwhelmed by the arrival of large numbers of wounded. There is a shortage of medicines and staff. 253 Cuban doctors have been deployed in the earthquake area to treat the injured. Doctors from the Haitian State University Hospital are on their way south.
Haitians are appealing for help, not only among themselves by donating blood or medical supplies, but also to the international community. According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake has been classified as a level red in terms of casualties, which means that Haiti may require international assistance. Several countries – the USA, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Spain, Chile, Peru and Mexico – have already offered to do so,
Haiti’s Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, called on Haitians for support and calm: “I call on all Haitians to show solidarity and determination so that together we can face this dramatic situation we are currently experiencing. I express my condolences to the parents of the victims of this strong earthquake, which has caused several human and material losses in several geographical departments of the country.”
Difficulties with telephone connections have been reported in various parts of the country. DIGICEL assures its customers that its network is 100% operational. Communication difficulties in some areas are due to congestion caused by the panic following the earthquake. We are therefore unable to contact our partners in Roche-au-Bateaux for the time being. However, we hope that the adopted children are okay.
Lada Matyášová, Arcdiocaesan Caritas Olomouc