Gutted buildings, remains stuck in the rubble. Two days after the powerful earthquake that struck Haiti, killing nearly 1,300, relief efforts were active Monday in search of people missing or stranded under the ruins, at the approach of a storm that threatened to worsen further the situation.
The Tropical Depression Grace indeed raised the risk of floods and landslides in Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center warned.
According to the Haitian Civil Protection Sunday evening, 1,297 people died and more than 5,700 were injured in the earthquake that rocked the southwest of the country on Saturday at 8:29 am local time. Almost 30,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged.
In the small seaside town of Port-Salut as in the rest of the affected regions, residents faced a dilemma: stay outside to protect themselves from aftershocks, or enter damaged buildings to shelter from the severe weather expected with the depression. tropical Grace.
The city hospital has decided: we must try to protect the patients who have piled up in the courtyard, under plastic sheeting, since the earthquake. In the middle of the day Monday, the patients were transferred inside the establishment despite the fear of aftershocks.
“The doctors ask us for tonight to go under the concrete slab but so far, we are not safe. It still shakes up so that’s why we are installed outside ”, testified Wilfried Labaye, 41, before the decision to put everyone inside is taken.
His wife Espérance Rose Nadine, 36, is lying on the floor next to him. She had both legs crushed in the collapse of their home in the nearby mountains.
Mr. Labaye is worried not only about the state of health of his wife but also about the bad weather that they will not be able to escape. “I don’t know how this storm will pass,” he said.
Alongside the nurses who take care of the wounded, Aline Cadet, a 26-year-old midwife, is undermined by the announcement of weather reports.
“Psychologically, we are not well. We don’t know at all how we’re going to manage, ”she blurted out. “There are pregnant women here, some have lost their babies by falling or being injured,” she laments.
Many countries, including the United States, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Ecuador have offered their assistance with the dispatch of personnel, emergency rations and medical equipment.
The American army announced Monday the constitution of a joint military mission, with the deployment already carried out of a team in charge of assessing the situation in the affected areas thanks to aerial observation means. Four helicopters were also mobilized for transport.
It is a question of “having an idea of the damage”, explained Monday the spokesman of the Pentagon, John Kirby. Aerial images taken by US teams “will help determine what help is needed, where and when.”
Help was busy in the affected areas using trucks and backhoes such as in the city of Cayes, near the epicenter of the earthquake, some 160 km from the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who declared a state of emergency for one month in the four departments affected by the disaster, thanked the international community on Sunday.
“We want to give a more appropriate response than in 2010 after the earthquake. All aid from outside must be coordinated by the Directorate of Civil Protection, ”demanded the head of government, while calling on his fellow citizens to“ national unity ”.
“Let us forget our quarrels,” pleaded Mr. Henry, who heads the poorest country in the Americas, in the midst of a crisis since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7.
The magnitude 7 earthquake of January 12, 2010 devastated the capital and several provincial towns. More than 200,000 people were killed and over 300,000 injured in the disaster, while more than 1.5 million Haitians were left homeless.
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