Earthquake hits western Haiti, killing at least three

Dozens also injured in 4.9-magnitude quake that struck Caribbean nation as it reels from heavy rainfall and flooding.

A view of Jeremie, Haiti
A view of Jeremie, capital of Haiti's Grand'Anse department, where the earthquake struck [File: Matias Delacroix/AP Photo]

A 4.9-magnitude earthquake has struck western Haiti, killing at least three people and injuring more than two dozen others, officials said.

The quake occurred on Tuesday morning in the Grand’Anse department, nearly 300km (186 miles) west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, at a relatively shallow depth of 10km (6 miles), according to the US Geological Survey.

Christine Monquele, head of the civil protection agency in Grand’Anse, told the AFP news agency that three deaths had been recorded so far.

“They are members of the same family and were killed when their house collapsed,” Monquele said. The civil protection agency also counted 28 injured, she said, adding that the search for “other possible casualties” was ongoing.

The earthquake struck as the Caribbean nation has reeled from heavy rainfall and flooding that killed at least 42 people and displaced thousands of people in recent days.

It also hit almost two years after a 7.2-magnitude temblor struck southern Haiti and killed more than 2,200 people, with Les Cayes sustaining the most damage.

In 2010, a 7.0-magnitude quake near the densely populated capital killed at least 200,000 people and caused widespread devastation to buildings.

Eric Mpitabakana, a World Food Programme official in Jeremie, capital of the Grand’Anse department, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that things fell around his house as a result of the morning quake.

He said that he and other colleagues are contemplating sleeping outdoors if there are strong aftershocks. “I thought the whole house was going to fall on top of me,” Mpitabakana told the news agency.

“There were so many people out on the street, and a lot of panic,” he recalled of the moments after the earthquake struck.

Claude Prepetit, a geologist and engineer with Haiti’s Bureau of Mines and Energy, told Radio Caraibes that smaller earthquakes that occurred earlier this year in southern Haiti led to the bigger one that struck on Tuesday.

The Haitian Red Cross said on Tuesday afternoon that more than 30 volunteer rescuers had mobilised in response to the quake, and “efforts are continuing to find survivors and evaluate their needs”.

“Let’s remember that this earthquake hit Grand’Anse after the entire country experienced a weekend of devastating floods, which took the lives of more than 40 people,” the agency said in a statement shared on Twitter.

Haiti is already struggling to meet the needs of its citizens, nearly 5.2 million of whom are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations.

Gang violence has escalated in the country, particularly after the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, and hunger is widespread. June also marked the beginning of hurricane season in Haiti.

“I am particularly concerned by this situation at a time when the Haitian population is already highly vulnerable,” Jean-Martin Bauer, Haiti’s acting humanitarian coordinator, said on Monday about the recent storms and flooding, which have affected more than 37,000 people.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies