Rescuers in Haiti on Monday used heavy equipment and their bare hands to hunt for survivors under buildings flattened two days ago by a massive earthquake that killed more than 1,400 people, while an approaching storm threatened more suffering.
Flash flooding and mudslides were possible when the front crashed into the Caribbean nation’s southwestern peninsula, which was badly hit by a 7.2 on the Richter scale earthquake that toppled thousands of buildings early Saturday.
Hospitals have been overwhelmed with the influx of injured patients, and workers were unsure how to cope with Tropical Depression Grace.
Haiti’s civil defense agency on Monday set a preliminary toll of 1,419 dead and 6,900 injured in the powerful earthquake that struck about 100 miles (160 km) west of the capital Port-au-Prince.
The earthquake also destroyed more than 37,000 homes, officials said.
“We’re really not doing well psychologically. We have absolutely no idea how we’re going to get through this,” said 26-year-old obstetrician Aline Cadet, who helped out at the hospital in the hard-hit city of Port Greeting.
“There are women here who were pregnant but lost their babies because they fell or were injured,” she added.
According to the US National Hurricane Center, Haiti and the Dominican Republic — which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola — can expect five to 10 inches of rain from Grace, “with isolated maximum totals of 15 centimeters” in southern areas through Tuesday.
“This heavy rainfall could lead to flash flooding and flooding in the city, and possible mudslides,” the NHC warned.
Residents faced the dilemma of staying outside to protect themselves from aftershocks, or returning to damaged buildings to shelter from Grace’s torrential rain, which had soaked Haiti Monday afternoon.
The hospital in Port-Salut made its appeal: the patients treated in a courtyard were brought into the building despite the risks for protection from the storm.
“The doctors have asked us to go in tonight. It’s not safe. There’s still tremors, that’s why we’re outside,” said Wilfried Labaye, 41.
His wife Esperance Rose Nadine, 36, was lying on the floor next to him, both legs broken when their house collapsed in the earthquake.
Haiti, still recovering from a massive earthquake in 2010 that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince, was already in shock from the assassination of its president last month when the disaster struck.
Some aid has come in from abroad, including specialized search teams from the United States and 15.4 tons of food, medicine and water from Mexico.
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake in January 2010 destroyed much of Port-au-Prince and nearby towns, killing more than 200,000.
More than 1.5 million Haitians were left homeless in the disaster, which also destroyed 60 percent of Haiti’s health care system, posing a huge challenge to authorities and the international humanitarian community.
The latest earthquake comes just over a month after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen, shocking a country already battling poverty, gang violence and Covid-19.
(This story was not edited by NewsMadura staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)