Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Desperate search after Haiti quake as storm threatens



Desperate search after Haiti quake as storm threatens

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The August 14, 2021 earthquake destroyed most of this church in the town of Les Anglais, Haiti. AFP

Desperate search after Haiti quake as storm threatens

Rescuers in Haiti used heavy equipment and their bare hands on August 16 to hunt for survivors under buildings flattened two days ago by a massive earthquake that killed more than 1,400 people, while an approaching storm threatened more suffering.

Flash floods and mudslides were possible as the front bore down on the Caribbean nation’s southwestern peninsula, which was hard-hit by a 7.2-magnitude quake that toppled thousands of buildings early on August 14.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed with the influx of injured patients, and workers were at a loss with how they might cope with Tropical Depression Grace.

Haiti’s civil protection agency gave a preliminary toll on August 16 of 1,419 dead and 6,900 injured in the powerful quake that struck about 160km to the west of the capital Port-au-Prince.

The earthquake also destroyed more than 37,000 homes, officials said.

“We’re really not doing well psychologically. We have absolutely no idea how we’re going to get through this,” said 26-year-old midwife Aline Cadet, who was helping at the hospital in the hard-hit town of Port-Salut.

“There are women here who were pregnant but lost their baby because they fell or were injured,” she added.

According to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), Haiti and the Dominican Republic – which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola – could expect 12-26cm of rain from Grace, “with isolated maximum totals” of 38cm across southern areas through August 17.

“This heavy rainfall may lead to flash and urban flooding, and possible mudslides,” the NHC warned.

Residents faced a dilemma of staying outside to protect themselves from aftershocks, or returning to damaged buildings to shelter from Grace’s heavy rain, which was soaking Haiti by the afternoon of August 16.

The hospital in Port-Salut made its call – the patients being treated in a courtyard were brought into the building for protection from the storm, despite the risks.

“The doctors have asked us to go inside this evening. It’s not safe. There are still tremors, that’s why we’re outside,” said Wilfried Labaye, 41.

His wife Esperance Rose Nadine, 36, was laying on the ground next to him, both of her legs broken when their home collapsed during the quake.

Haiti, still recovering from a massive 2010 tremor that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince, was already in shock from President Jovenel Moise’s assassination last month when the disaster hit. The head of state was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen, shaking a country already battling poverty, spiralling gang violence and Covid-19.

Some aid has come in from abroad, including 15.4 tonnes of food, medicine and water from Mexico, as well as specialised search crews from the US.

The 7.0-magnitude quake in January 2010 left much of Port-au-Prince and nearby cities in ruins, killing more than 200,000.

More than 1.5 million Haitians were made homeless in that disaster, which also destroyed 60 per cent of Haiti’s healthcare system, leaving authorities and the international humanitarian community with a colossal challenge.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro