By Lorenz Duchamps August 14, 2021 Updated: August 15, 2021
Update on Sunday Aug. 15: The death toll from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Haiti soared to at least 1,297 Sunday as rescuers raced to find survivors amid the rubble ahead of a potential deluge from an approaching tropical storm. Saturday’s earthquake also left at least 2,800 people injured in the Caribbean nation, with thousands more displaced from their destroyed or damaged homes.
At least 304 people have died after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he was rushing aid to affected areas, where some towns were destroyed and hospitals were overwhelmed with wounded people.
“Red alert for shaking-related fatalities. High casualties are probable and the disaster is likely widespread,” according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The quake struck about 5 miles from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, which is 93 miles west of the capital Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 6 miles, the USGS said. Tremors were felt across the Caribbean.
A regional tsunami wave warning was issued, according to the U.S. Tsunami Warning System, waves up to 10 feet above the tide level are possible along some of the country’s coast.
Forecasters noted that there is no tsunami threat to the U.S. East Coast, Gulf Coast, or the Caribbean islands at this time.
Initial images from the earthquake posted on social media by witnesses appear to show that several buildings collapsed in the region along with rubble in the streets.
Naomi Verneus, a 34-year-old resident of Port-au-Prince, said she was jolted awake by the earthquake and that her bed was shaking.
“I woke up and didn’t have time to put my shoes on. We lived the 2010 earthquake and all I could do was run. I later remembered my two kids and my mother were still inside. My neighbor went in and told them to get out. We ran to the street,” Verneus said.
Haiti is still recovering from a major earthquake that struck close to the capital 11 years ago that killed approximately 250,000, flattened swathes of buildings, and left about 1.5 million homeless.
Also on Saturday, an earthquake of similar strength struck off the coast of the Alaskan Peninsula just hours before Haiti was hit, the USGS reported.
No tsunami warnings were issued as the magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck just before 4 a.m. at a depth of 6 miles. Tremors were felt in Chignik, Cold Bay, Kodiak, and Bethel.
The closest place to the epicenter was Perryville, home to a little more than 100 people, about 85 miles northwest.
The USGS says that 75 percent of all earthquakes that happen in the United States with a magnitude over 5 occur in Alaska.