Disasters & Accidents

Haitian quake death toll hiked to 1,297, countries sending aid

(Updates with revised death toll, aid shipments by other countries)

Port-au-Prince, Aug 15 (EFE).- Haitian authorities on Sunday raised to 1,297 the death toll in the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the country on the weekend.

Civil Protection reported that 1,054 people are known to have died in the Sud Department, another 122 in Nippes and 119 in Grand’Anse, all of these provinces on the country’s slender southwestern peninsula, while another two people lost their lives in northwest Haiti.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government on Sunday sent the beleaguered nation 30 tons of supplies, including food, medicine and potable water, to help the general populace after the powerful Saturday quake that injured at least 2,800 people.

An aircraft with Venezuela’s state-run airline Conviasa took off from Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquietia on a “first flight” loaded with the aid, Venezuelan Interior Minister Carmen Melendez said on her Twitter account.

The Colombian government of Ivan Duque also announced Sunday that it was sending 16 tons of humanitarian aid to Haiti, including field rations, potable water, food and hygiene kits, sheets, mosquito netting, tents and other items.

The supplies were being delivered aboard two multipurpose aircraft – a Casa C-295 and a Hercules C-130 – which departed from the Military Transport Air Command base in Bogota.

The flights – said to be the first of several carrying humanitarian aid to be dispatched in the coming days – were also carrying search and rescue personnel to help in “saving lives,” Duque said, and were scheduled to land at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince.

Panama said that it will establish a collection center in Panama City to gather aid for the Haitian people, and Chile will send a cargo aircraft to the Haitian capital on Aug. 17 with Panama providing the logistical requirements.

Mexico said that a first shipment of medicine, equipment, food and other supplies was being loaded aboard aircraft that would be sent to Haiti on the orders of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, according to Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard’s comments on the social networks.

The United States also sent a search and rescue team to Haiti on Sunday, the second unit to be deployed to the quake-hit country, along with a team comprising 65 experts and four search dogs.

In addition to the rescue unit, 52,000 pounds of tools and specialized equipment, including hydraulic equipment to break up concrete, drills, saws and sophisticated medical teams to support the effort were being dispatched, the US Agency for International Development said.

President Joe Biden on Saturday had ordered an “immediate response” to the quake in Haiti and put USAID administrator Samantha Power in charge of the US effort.

Meanwhile, USAID added that it is closely following the development of Tropical Storm Grace, which is rapidly approaching Haiti and expected to arrive there within the next 48 hours, potentially exposing the Haitian people to even more devastation.

And French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday sent his condolences to the Haitian people and said that France is “prepared” to help the Caribbean country.

“Our thoughts go out to those who have lost a loved one, to those who have seen their homes collapse along with a part of their lives,” said Macron in a Twitter message.

The French leader added that Paris will be “at (Haiti’s) side” – the Caribbean nation being a former French colony – during the present crisis.

The 7.2-magnitude quake is among the 10 deadliest temblors to strike Latin America in the past 25 years, and it caused substantial material damage across southwestern Haiti, which in January 2010 was devastated by another quake that killed some 300,000 people and made 1.5 million homeless.

According to preliminary estimates, the Saturday quake destroyed at least 13,694 houses in the most heavily affected provinces, damaging another 13,585 homes along with a number of hospitals, schools, hotels, churches, bridges and highways.

The quake comes amid a heightened political crisis – amid a more general political and economic crisis that began, or worsened, in 2018 – following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise evidently carried out by a squad of 26 mercenaries who invaded the presidential residence in Port-au-Prince.

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