The Haitian government declared a state of emergency after at least 304 people died in a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the country Saturday morning, Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced in a news conference.
More than 1,800 people were injured, the country’s civil protection service said.
“When it comes to medical needs, this is our biggest urgency. We have started to send medications and medical personnel to the facilities that are affected,” Henry said. “For the people who need urgent special care, we have evacuated a certain number of them, and we will evacuate some more today and tomorrow.”
The state of emergency will be in the Western Department, Southern Department, Nippes, and Grand’Anse.
One hospital in the southern city of Jeremie said it is overwhelmed with patients.
“There are a lot of people coming in — a lot of people,” an administrator at the Hospital Saint Antoine told CNN. “We don’t have enough supplies.”
The hospital has set up tents in its courtyard, the administrator said.
The earthquake was about 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud and 10 kilometres deep, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
“There are reports of significant damage to homes, roads, and infrastructure,” American Red Cross spokeswoman Katie Wilkes said.
Martine Moise, the first lady of Haiti, said her heart “hurts” after receiving news about the earthquake, which caused enormous damage south of Grand’Anse.
“The initial information that I have received from Grand’Anse is heart-wrenching,” the first lady said. “It hurts my heart for the kids, the mothers, the elderlies, the handicaps, my friends, and all the victims of this earthquake.”
“My brothers and sisters, we have to put our shoulders together to come together to demonstrate our solidarity. It is our togetherness that makes up our strength and resilience. Courage, I will always be by your side.” Moise added.