(Les Cayes) After a stressful night enduring the aftershocks of the major earthquake that killed at least 724 people in southwest Haiti, residents and helpers were busy on Sunday with limited resources to find survivors among the rubble.
Posted on Aug 15, 2021 at 7:44 am Updated at 11:32 am
Amelie BARON with Daxia ROJAS in Washington Agence France-Presse
A number of heavy machinery, trucks and backhoe loaders were busy moving concrete slabs from collapsed buildings in the town of Les Cayes near the epicenter of the earthquake, about 160 km from the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, AFP said Place fixed.
The 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck southwest Haiti at 8:29 a.m. (12:29 p.m. GMT) Saturday, killing at least 724 people and injuring more than 2,800, according to the latest release from the Haitian Services.
Only ruins remain of Marcel François’s two-story house in Les Cayes.
“It’s a grace from God and thanks to my phone that I’m alive, because I could tell the people outside where I was,” said the 30-year-old.
His little brother Job, supported by neighbors, spent more than three hours pulling him out of the rubble with nothing but the strength of her arms.
“I was on the bus to go to work when the earthquake hit. I managed to reach Marcel on the phone, but he told me “come and save me, I’m under the concrete” ”, testifies Job François.
With an injured head, once pulled out of the concrete blocks and broken furniture, Marcel François was immediately taken to the hospital, in a state of shock because there was no news from his 10-month-old daughter, who is still trapped in the ruins.
“I thought my child was dead. I cried when I got to the hospital, I was resigned,” confides the man in his mid-thirties, moved.
Thanks to the joint action of the residents and her uncle, little Ruth Marlee Alliyah François was taken out of the house four hours after the earthquake.
Marcel and Job François are waiting for the help of the professional teams on Sunday morning because they want to recover the lifeless corpse of their tenant, a young woman of 27 who lived on the ground floor of the residence and died within minutes. followed the earthquake.
However, relief efforts to help the victims could be hampered if Tropical Storm Grace approaches, with the risk of torrential rains and rapid flooding, according to the US National Weather Service.
Personnel and medication have already been dispatched to the southwestern peninsula by the Ministry of Health, but emergency logistics are also endangered by the months of uncertainty in Haiti.
For a little more than two kilometers, the only road that connects the capital with the southern half of the country crosses the poor district of Martissant, which has been controlled by armed gangs since the beginning of June, and prevents freedom of movement.
The few hospitals in the affected regions are struggling to provide emergency care.
Pope Francis expressed his “solidarity” with the people of Haiti on Sunday and said “hope that the international community will work in their favor”.
Many countries, including the United States, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Ecuador, have already offered their assistance with deploying personnel, emergency rations, and medical equipment.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who had declared a state of emergency for a month in the four departments affected by the disaster, thanked the international community on Sunday.
“We want to react more appropriately than in 2010 after the earthquake. All external aid must be coordinated by the Directorate for Civil Protection ”, demanded the head of government and called on his fellow citizens to“ national unity ”. “Let us forget our disputes,” pleaded Mr. Henry.
Memories of the 2010 earthquake
We still remember the earthquake on January 12, 2010, which devastated the capital and several provincial cities.
More than 200,000 people were killed and more than 300,000 others injured in the disaster, while more than 1.5 million Haitians were left homeless. The country’s efforts to recover from this disaster have been hampered by severe political instability.
Eleven years later, the island is still in an acute socio-political crisis, the president of which, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated last month.
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