After a harrowing night of aftershocks from a powerful earthquake that killed at least 724 people in southwestern Haiti, residents and aid workers were busy Sunday with limited means to find survivors under the rubble.
A number of heavy machinery, trucks and wheel loaders were busy transporting concrete slabs from collapsed buildings in the city of Les Cayes near the epicenter, about 160 km from the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, AFP said at the site.
France Press agency
The 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck southwest Haiti at 8:29 a.m. Saturday, killing at least 724 people and injuring more than 2,800, according to the latest statement from Haiti’s Civil Protection Service.
Of the two-storey house of Marcel François in Les Cayes, only ruins remain.
“It is a blessing from God and also thanks to my phone that I am alive because I have been able to tell people outside where I am,” the 30-year-old told AFP.
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His little brother Job, with the help of neighbors, spent more than three hours pulling him up from the rubble, with nothing but the strength of their arms.
“I was on the bus to go to work when the earthquake hit. I was able to reach Marcel by phone, but he said to me ‘Come and save me, I’m under the concrete,'” Job Francois testifies.
Marcel Francois, who had injuries to the head, after being pulled from concrete blocks and broken furniture, was immediately taken to hospital, in shock because without news of his 10-month-old daughter, she was still stuck in the rubble.
I thought my baby died. I was crying when I got to the hospital, I was resigned,” the 30th man admits emotionally.
Thanks to the joint work of the residents and her uncle, young Ruth Marley Alia Francois was driven out of the house, four hours after the earthquake.
Marcel and Job Francois are waiting for help from the professional teams on Sunday morning because they want to remove the dead body from the rubble, a 27-year-old young woman who lived on the ground floor of the house, died within minutes. after the earthquake.
However, relief efforts to help victims could be hampered as the tropical storm approaches, with the risk of heavy rain and flash flooding, according to the US National Weather Service.
Staff and medicines have already been dispatched by the health ministry to the southwestern peninsula, but emergency logistics are also at risk due to the insecurity that has plagued Haiti for months.
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Just over two kilometres, the only road connecting the capital to the southern half of the country crosses the slum of Martissant that has been under the control of armed gangs since early June, preventing free movement.
Few hospitals in the affected areas are struggling to provide emergency care.
On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his “solidarity” with the people of Haiti, saying “we hope that the international community will intervene on their behalf.”
Several countries, including the United States, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Ecuador, have already offered to help send personnel, emergency rations, and medical equipment.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who declared a month-long state of emergency in the four provinces affected by the disaster, thanked the international community on Sunday.
We want to give a more appropriate response than in 2010 after the earthquake. At the same time, the prime minister called for “national unity.” “Let’s forget our differences,” said Mr. Henry.
The earthquake of January 12, 2010 that devastated the capital and many regional towns is still fresh in our memory.
More than 200,000 people were killed and more than 300,000 others injured in the disaster, while more than 1.5 million Haitians were displaced. The country’s efforts to recover from this disaster have been hampered by strong political instability.
After 11 years, the island is still in the midst of a severe social and political crisis, with its president, Jovenel Moyes assassinated last month.
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