Hospitals near the epicenter of a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti are “overwhelmed” with patients as Haitians took to the streets frantically digging through rubble for casualties.
Among the dead is the former mayor of Cayes, Gabriel Fortune, whose body was found in the rubble of a hotel he owned in the city, which is at the epicenter of the quake, 75 miles west of the capital Port-au-Prince.
There are several other victims under the hotel’s rubble, according to Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste. The newspaper reported four dead and “many wounded in the emergency room” at the main hospital in the city, Immaculee des Cayes.
“We are mobilizing all of our resources to aid the victims,” said Prime Minister Ariel Henry in a tweet, soon after the morning quake struck the south of the country.
“I send out my sympathies to the relatives of the victims of this violent earthquake which has cost many lives and a great deal of destruction.”
Jerry Chandler, Haiti’s director of civil protection, told the AP that the death toll stood at 29 and that teams will be sent to the area for search and rescue missions.
“The situation unfolding in Haiti right now is devastating, and we must do all we can to support the Haitian people today and in the months to come,” tweeted New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“My thoughts and prayers are with them and our Haitian communities here in New York”
The chairs of the Congressional Haiti Caucus also expressed their sympathies to Haitians in a statement Saturday.
“This earthquake could not have come at a worse time for the people of Haiti; the nation is in the throes of a political crisis, the effects of the compounding COVID-19 pandemic, and is still recovering from the disastrous earthquake that hit the island’s southern peninsula more than a decade ago,” said the statement.
“We remain committed to championing adequate aid to the region, supporting bilateral relations and policies that will ensure Haiti’s full economic and political recovery, and the emergence of a durable, Haitian-led democracy.”