Haiti earthquake death toll jumps to 1,941 with 9,900 injured as search for survivors resumes after Tropical Storm Grace battered the island
- The death toll jumped by 500 to 1,941 on Tuesday as search and rescue efforts resumed
- Tropical Storm Grace brought a temporary stop to recovery efforts, angering thousands left homeless
- The number of people injured surpassed 9,900 with an untold number of Haitians still missing
- The 7.2-magnitude earthquake destroyed more than 7,000 homes and damaged 5,000 others
After Tropical Storm Grace briefly halted efforts to find victims of a devastating earthquake in Haiti, the search resumed Tuesday, when 500 additional bodies were recover.
Officials in the Caribbean country said the death toll now stands at 1,941. The storm brought a temporary stop to recovery efforts, angering thousands of Haitians left homeless by the weekend disaster.
Grace battered southwestern Haiti, which was hit hardest by Saturday’s quake, and officials warned some areas could get 15 inches of rain before the storm moved on. Intermittent rain fell in the earthquake-damaged city of Les Cayes and in the capital of Port-au-Prince.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Civil Protection Agency raised the death toll to 1,941 and the number of injured to 9,900, many of whom have had to wait for medical help lying outside in wilting heat.
It wasn’t clear how many people remained missing.
The death toll from Haiti’s devastating Saturday earthquake jumped to 1,941 on Tuesday with 9,900 injured as the search for survivors resumed after Tropical Storm Grace battered the island
Nearly 10,000 people were injured in a 7.2-magnitude quake that killed 1,941 others. An untold number of victims remain missing as officials continue to scour through the rubble.
Men carry the body of a boy, who was found in a collapsed building, into the cemetery in Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit. According to an engineer working for Les Cayes Mayor, the boy’s body was found Monday amid the rubble of a collapsed hospital. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
A building lays in ruins three days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake and the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Hospital workers move the covered body of Laneite Nuel, who died after getting injured during Saturday’s 7.2 magnitude quake, outside a hospital in Les Cayes on Tuesday
A rescue worker uses a saw to break up rubble left by the earthquake on Tuesday
The devastation is centered in the country’s southwestern area, where health care has reached capacity and people have lost homes and loved ones.
Patience was running out in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation. Haitians already were struggling with the coronavirus, gang violence, worsening poverty and the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse when the quake hit.
Bodies continued to be pulled from the rubble, and the smell of death hung heavily over a pancaked, three-story apartment building. A simple bed sheet covered the body of a three-year-old girl that firefighters had found an hour earlier.
Neighbor Joseph Boyer, 53, said he knew the girl’s family.
‘The mother and father are in the hospital, but all three kids died,’ he said. The bodies of the other two siblings were found earlier.
Illustrating the lack of government presence, volunteer firefighters from the nearby city of Cap-Hatien had left the body out in the rain because police have to be present before a body can be taken away.
Another neighbor, James Luxama, 24, repeated a popular rumor at many disaster scenes, saying that someone was sending text messages for help from inside the rubble. But Luxama had not personally seen or received such a message.
A throng of angry, shouting men gathered in front of the collapsed building, a sign that patience was running out for people who have waited days for help from the government.
‘The photographers come through, the press, but we have no tarps for our roofs,’ said one man, who refused to give his name.
The head of Haiti´s office of civil protection, Jerry Chandler, acknowledged the situation. Earthquake assessments had to be paused because of the heavy rain, ‘and people are getting aggressive,’ Chandler said Tuesday.
Some children were orphaned in the quake and some youngsters were starting to go hungry, said Carl-Henry Petit-Frère, a field manager for Save the Children, which said in a statement that it was distributing what it could to people living on the streets without protection from the wind and rain.
‘I see children crying on the street, people asking us for food, but we are low on food ourselves as well,’ Petit-Frère said, adding that children were warned not to go into houses because they could collapse. ‘The organizations that are here are doing what they can, but we need more supplies. Food, clean water and shelter are needed most, and we need them fast.’
About 20 soldiers finally showed up to help rescuers at the collapsed apartment building.
A child sleeps inside a church housing earthquake-displaced Haitians the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Les Cayes, Haiti, halting search and rescue efforts for victims of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.
The earthquake orphaned some children, and left others starving for food, officials said. Families displaced by the deadly disaster sought shelter as a tropical storm approached.
Haitians expressed anger and frustration after learning Tropical Storm Grace would halt the search and recovery efforts for earthquake victims.
Residents watch an excavator remove rubble from a collapsed building three days after a 7.2 magnitude quake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, the day after Tropical Storm Grace swept the area. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Earthquake-displaced people sit inside a church the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2 magnitude quake. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Prior to that, the only help that arrived was from poorly equipped volunteers.
‘All we have are sledgehammers and hands. That´s the plan,’ said Canadian volunteer Randy Lodder, director of the Adoration Christian School in Haiti.
Sarah Charles, assistant administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development´s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, said its disaster response teams were forced to suspend operations as the storm arrived Monday, but members were back Tuesday to assess its impact and continue helping.
‘We do not anticipate that the death toll related to this earthquake will be anywhere near the 2010 earthquake, where more than 200,000 people were killed,’ Charles told reporters.
The scale of the damage also was not as severe as that earthquake, she said, adding: ‘That´s not what we’re seeing on the ground right now.’
In a statement, the U.S. military’s Southern Command said it was moving eight helicopters from Honduras to Haiti and that seven U.S. Coast Guard cutters were en route to support the USAID team. Two cutters already are there along with two Coast Guard helicopters and U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft that are taking aerial images of earthquake devastated areas, the statement said.
The effort was being mounted ‘to provide the kind of emergency response that is necessary in a human tragedy and catastrophe like this,’ U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House.
John Morrison, public information officer for the Fairfax Co. (Virginia) Urban Search and Rescue, said its team was still trying to find survivors. Two U.S. Coast Guard helicopters had ferried searchers to six stricken communities on Monday.
‘The team reports that food, health care services, safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation and shelter are all priority needs,’ Morrison said. He added that the team had not seen any signs of people trapped alive in buildings.
The rain and wind raised the threat of mudslides and flash flooding as Grace slowly passed over southwestern Haiti’s Tiburon Peninsula before heading toward Jamaica and southeastern Cuba. Forecasters said it could become a hurricane before hitting Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
A man walks on the rubble of a collapsed hotel the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Port Salut, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2 magnitude quake. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
A man walks along a road in a slightly flooded area the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over the area in Trou Mahot, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Officials said the magnitude 7.2 earthquake destroyed more than 7,000 homes and damaged nearly 5,000, leaving about 30,000 families homeless. Hospitals, schools, offices and churches also were demolished or badly damaged.
In the village of Bonne Fin, a one-hour drive from from Les Cayes on dirt roads, the mountaintop Hospital Lumiere illustrated the anguish and complexity of Haiti´s medical crisis and dire need for outside help.
No one died or was injured at the hospital when the quake hit, but the operating rooms partially collapsed.
Through cracks in a wall, Dr. Frantz Codio could see three glistening anesthesia machines he needed to perform orthopedic operations on broken bones. But he could not get to them because the building’s cement floor was leaning at a crazy angle – in some places just 3 or 4 feet above where it used to be.
Despite warnings not to go inside the structure, Codio did so on Sunday and pulled one of the machines out.
‘People said, “Don´t go in there, it´s too dangerous,” but I had God with me,’ Codio said.
Etzer Emile, a Haitian economist and professor at Quisqueya University, a private institution in Port-au-Prince, said the earthquake will almost certainly result in more long-term poverty for Haiti´s struggling southwestern region.
Political instability and gang criminality along the southern roads into the region have particularly hobbled economic activity in recent years.
‘The earthquake has just given a fatal blow to a regional economy already on its knees for about 2 1/2 years,’ Emile said.
People watch as firefighters try to recover a body from the rubble of a home destroyed by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after the quake hit. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)
Earthquake-displaced children huddle under a piece of plastic the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)
Earthquake-displaced people are exposed to the elements the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
An earthquake-displaced person walks through a makeshift camp the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
A man walks past an earthquake-destroyed church the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Trou Mahot, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Earthquake-displaced people sit under blankets to shield themselves from the rain, the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Les Cayes, Haiti, early Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)
A woman walks in the rain past earthquake-destroyed homes the day after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)
Residents wade through a flooded road the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Trou Mahot, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2 magnitude quake. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
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