(ORDO NEWS) — The death toll in Haiti has risen to 304 as of August 15 following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. At least 1,800 people were injured, and rescuers are pulling people out from under the rubble.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared a state of emergency for one month and said that some cities were almost completely destroyed after the earthquake on Saturday.
He said he would not ask for international assistance until the extent of the damage is known.
Mr. Henry said, “The most important thing is to find as many survivors as possible under the rubble.”
“We found out that local hospitals, in particular in Le Quay, are overwhelmed with wounded and broken people.”
The epicenter of the quake was about 78 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, the US Geological Survey said.
The prime minister said that the International Red Cross and hospitals in the unaffected areas are helping the wounded and called on Haitians to unite.
Mr Henry also said he wants “organized solidarity” to avoid confusion in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, when aid slowly reached residents and as many as 300,000 died.
Among those killed in Saturday’s earthquake was Gabriel Fortune, a longtime legislator and former mayor of the city of Le Quay. He died along with several other people when his Le Manguier hotel collapsed, Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported.
Philippe Boutin, 37, who lives in Puerto Rico but visits his family in Le Qu every year, said his mother read morning prayer when the tremors started but managed to leave the house.
The earthquake happened during the festivities in honor of the patron saint of the city. Mr Boutin said the hotel was probably overcrowded and there were more people in the small town than usual.
“We still don’t know how many people are under the rubble,” he said.
Naomi Verneus, a 34-year-old resident of Port-au-Prince, said she was awakened by the earthquake: “I woke up and didn’t have time to put on my shoes. We survived the 2010 earthquake and all I could do was run. Later I remembered that my two children and my mother were still inside. My neighbor entered the house and told them to get out. We ran out into the street.”
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