4.9 magnitude quake strikes southern Haiti; 4 dead, dozens injured

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.9 struck southern Haiti early Tuesday morning, authorities in Port-au-Prince said June 7, killing at least four people and injuring 36 others.

The quake struck before dawn near the southwestern port city of Jeremy at a depth of six miles (10 kilometers), according to the US Geological Survey.

“I thought the whole house was going to fall on top of me,” Eric Mbitapakana, Jeremy’s World Food Program official, reported to the Associated Press.

Two homes collapsed in the quake, and a major road linking Jeremy and Les Cayes was cut off, according to Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency.

Three of the fatal victims were from the same family and were found under a collapsed house where rescuers were looking for more people. Frankel Maginier, Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency, is in Jeremy.

He said that many children were taken to the hospital with injuries they sustained after they panicked and ran away.

A crowd gathered around one of the collapsed houses as they tried to search for survivors under the rubble. They carried at least one victim wrapped in a sheet.

Mbitapakana said things fell around his house and that he and other colleagues were considering sleeping outdoors if there were strong aftershocks.

“There were a lot of people in the street and there was a lot of panic,” he recalls in the moments after the earthquake.

Smaller quakes earlier this year in southern Haiti led to Tuesday’s larger quake, Claude Prebet, a geologist and engineer with the Haiti Office of Mines and Energy, told Radio Karibis.

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The earthquake occurred nearly two years after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck southern Haiti and killed more than 2,200 people, and Li Kai suffered the most damage. Some people who lost their homes last August are still living in camps.

Allen Joseph, a program director at global relief organization Mercy Corps, said in a phone interview that schools, banks and other institutions in Jeremy remained closed on Tuesday and that rescue teams were searching for survivors in the rubble earlier.

He said the organization was still assessing the situation to determine what assistance might be needed.

“There was a lot of panic,” he said. “Everyone was rushing out…the neighbors were shouting, ‘Go, go, go! ‘”

In 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake near the densely populated capital, Port-au-Prince, killed at least 200,000 people and caused widespread damage to buildings.

Tuesday’s earthquake comes as Haiti struggles to recover from heavy flooding over the weekend that killed at least 51 people, injured 140 and flooded nearly 31,600 homes. Prime Minister Ariel Henry asked for international assistance.

“Disasters continue to hit Haiti, left and right,” said Dr. Didino Tamakloy, director of the Hope for Haiti Project, a US aid organization. “People did not have time to recover from previous disasters, yet they experienced flash floods, earthquakes and landslides in a matter of days.”


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