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Haiti Crews 'Can Hear People Screaming' in the Rubble

Death toll reaches 304 from magnitude 7.2 earthquake
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2021 3:00 PM CDT
Haiti Crews 'Can Hear People Screaming' in the Rubble
A man helps to carry a person rescued from the rubble in the aftermath of an earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday, with the epicenter about 125 kilometers ( 78 miles) west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, the US Geological Survey...   (AP Photo/Duples Plymouth)

(Newser) – Crews in Haiti were trying Saturday to reach people trapped in the rubble after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck in the morning, killing at least 304 people. At least 1,800 are injured, the government said. As rescuers worked, at least six aftershocks shook the region, one of which was magnitude 5.1. An American Red Cross spokeswoman said there's "significant damage to homes, roads, and infrastructure," CNN reports. Hospitals were overwhelmed in at least two cities, per the New York Times; Les Cayes and Jeremie reported serious destruction. "There are a lot of people coming in—a lot of people," said a hospital administrator in Jeremie. "We don't have enough supplies." Phone lines were down in Petit Trou de Nippes, the quake's epicenter, so the damage there was unknown. Haiti was already dealing with a political crisis, after its president was assassinated last month. In addition, UN agencies report acute or severe food insecurity among 46% of the population, among the highest percentages in the world.

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Witnesses described, and videos showed, a chaotic situation as people fled their homes when the earthquake hit. "Many houses fell. Many people are trapped under the rubble," said a resident of Les Cayes. "We can hear people screaming under the rubble." Among the difficulties relief crews face is having to reach devastated areas by air because gangs control a main road, per the Washington Post. The small airstrip in Les Cayes already can't accommodate the relief efforts. "There isn’t a lot of capacity in that area to handle assistance," a spokesperson for Mercy Corps said. Relief agencies and UN officials are flying over Haiti's west and south to assess the damage. The US Geological Survey quickly predicted casualties will be high; the earthquake released about twice as much energy as one that killed more than 200,000 people in 2010. The government has declared a state of emergency that will be in effect for a month. (Read more Haiti stories.)

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