The death toll from Saturday’s earthquake in Haiti soared to at least 1,297 on Sunday — as the struggling nation prepared to get hammered yet again by Mother Nature with Tropical Storm Grace.
The country — still also reeling from the assassination of its prime minister, Jovenel Moïse, in July — reported more than 7,000 homes destroyed and nearly 5,000 structures damaged in the quake — including hospitals, schools and churches.
Now the National Hurricane Center is predicting 4 to 8 inches of rain in Haiti on Monday, adding the threat of floods and landslides to the battered island nation.
The country’s skyrocketing death toll from its 7.2 magnitude weekend temblor came hours after hospitals in Les Cayes, the island’s southwestern port city, reported that they were already “overwhelmed” with injured patients.
Officials said at least 5,700 people were hurt in the powerful quake in the Caribbean nation.
The hospitals, also drowning in COVID-19 patients, are in need of “everything,” said Dr. Inobert Pierre, a local pediatrician with the nonprofit Health Equity International, which operates St. Boniface Hospital about two hours from Les Cayes.
“Many of the patients have open wounds, and they have been exposed to not-so-clean elements,” Pierre said after visiting two hospitals in Les Cayes — one with about 200 patients, the other with around 90. “We anticipate a lot of infections.”
Haiti’s prime minister, Ariel Henry, said Saturday he was sending emergency services to hard-hit Les Cayes to help coordinate the local response there.
Henry has declared a one-month state of emergency for the country but said he will not ask for international help before assessing the extent of the damage.
“We are mobilizing all of our resources to aid the victims,” Henry said in a tweet.
“I send out my sympathies to the relatives of the victims of this violent earthquake which has cost many lives and a great deal of destruction.”
A video posted online Saturday showed dozens of residents of Les Cayes walking through crumbled homes and a hotel, searching through debris and rubble for loved ones.
“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” the prime minister said. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.”
The epicenter of the quake was about 45 miles east of Les Cayes, between the city and Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
In 2010, a 7.0 quake hit closer to the capital and caused widespread destruction. Haiti’s government reported over 300,000 deaths, while a U.S. government report estimated the number between 46,000 and 85,000.
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