One day after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook nearly 10 towns stretched along the southwestern portion of Haiti, government officials pledged to prioritize getting to victims trapped in rubble whose lives might still be saved and survivors in need of urgent treatment.
As of early Sunday, Haiti’s Civil Protection agency had counted 724 deaths and 28,000 injured people so far. At least 949 homes, seven churches, two hotels and three schools were destroyed. More than 723 homes, one prison, three health centres and seven schools were left heavily damaged.
By late Sunday, Aug. 15 the death toll had risen to nearly 1,300, with a forecasted tropical storm expected to bring heavy rain and winds the following day.
Hospitals reached full capacity and the Health Ministry asked people to donate blood.
Civil Protection officials also said it could not yet give a preliminary tally of the number missing.
“The needs are enormous. We must take care of the injured and fractured, but also provide food, aid, temporary shelter and psychological support,” said Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
After declaring a state emergency for one month, Henry said late Saturday that more health employees and medical equipment will be deployed to the South.
Meanwhile, a medical brigade of 253 Cuban doctors had traveled there late Saturday to begin treating victims. Local health employees were forced to use cardboard and other makeshift items to care for survivors. One video of a woman whose leg was wrapped with cardboard at a Les Cayes hospital went viral.
“Oh, I can’t take this,” said the woman, sobbing.
International partners say they were ready to lend a hand and had begun mobiliting rescue and aid teams. USAID had mobilized a search-and-rescue team and a Chilean plane with humanitarian aid was scheduled to arrive in Haiti on Sunday.