A day after the earthquake that left at least 304 dead and 1,800 injured in Haiti, local authorities are calculating the damage caused and are on alert for the possible impacts of Tropical Storm Grace, which is expected to arrive in the Caribbean country early of the week.
Saturday (14), after making public the first assessment of the extent of the damage caused by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake, the Directorate General of Civil Protection in Haiti announced that the storm was already approaching the archipelago of the West Indies and asked the population to pay attention to the recommendations of the authorities.
The Dominican Republic, a border country with which Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola, has issued a tropical storm warning. The country’s Emergency Operations Center predicts that heavy rains, winds, flooding and landslides are expected on the southern and northern coasts.
Depending on the impacts, Storm Grace could worsen the already fragile Haitian situation. The last partial assessment recorded 160 deaths in the South department, 100 in Grand-Anse, 42 in Nippes and 2 in the North-West, all in the south-west of the country.
Road infrastructure is damaged due to landslides caused by the earthquake, and several buildings, such as hotels, churches and hospitals, have their structures destroyed or compromised.
Overnight, firefighters and civilians combed through destroyed buildings in search of relatives and friends trapped in the rubble. Haitians told Reuters news agency they would spend the night sleeping outside, fearing another tremor could hit the country.
A few hours after the first earthquake, the country was hit by another earthquake, of lesser intensity, with a magnitude of 5.8. No new deaths have been reported.
Throughout Saturday afternoon, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry flew over the worst-affected regions of the country to measure the damage and declared a month-long state of emergency. “We have to show a lot of solidarity. Let’s act quickly, ”he wrote on a social network.
This is the first big challenge that neurosurgeon Henry faces in front of the country. In office for a little less than a month, he had been appointed by Jovenel Moïse, the Haitian president shot dead on July 7 by a group of mercenaries – investigations are still ongoing.
Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with Haitians during the prayer in Saint-Pierre Square this Sunday (15). “I address my words of encouragement to the survivors, hoping that the international community will mobilize in their favor and that the solidarity of all will be able to mitigate the consequences of the tragedy”, declared the pontiff.
International aid is already starting to arrive in the country. On Saturday, a group of 34 firefighters from Quito, Ecuador, arrived to help Haitians. They are part of the Collapsed Structures Search and Rescue Group, with expertise in meteorology, and have a dog and technology research team.
A group of 253 Cuban doctors residing in Haiti also moved to the earthquake zone with the aim of adapting the structure of a hospital currently used for patients with Covid-19.
A Cuban state channel, Luis Olivero Serrano, head of the brigade, informed that there are still many people under the rubble and that the Cubans are in contact with the Haitian Ministry of Health to prepare a hospital in the capital, Port-au-Prince. . “We have set up a trauma hospital which is used for Covid patients. We carry out disinfection and preparation for surgical procedures, ”he said.
Images were broadcast from the region of Jeremias, capital of the department of Grande Enseada, one of the most affected by the earthquake, showing Cuban doctors treating the wounded in the streets. Several people had their clothes torn and were covered with dust from the rubble.
On Saturday, Itamaraty confirmed that there were no Brazilians among the victims of the tragedy.
According to information from the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste, the country’s Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation is organizing to coordinate humanitarian aid from other countries and non-governmental organizations.
In collaboration with the Ministry of the Economy and Finance and the General Customs Administration, the case is organizing a measure aimed at facilitating the formalities and customs clearance of products linked to humanitarian aid.