Quake injured wait for help as new disaster overwhelms Haiti

Aug 15, 2021, 9:14 AM | Updated: 9:51 pm
People displaced from their earthquake destroyed homes spend the night outdoors in a grassy area th...

People displaced from their earthquake destroyed homes spend the night outdoors in a grassy area that is part of a hospital in Les Cayes, Haiti, late Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. A powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck southwestern Haiti on Saturday. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

(AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

              People displaced from their earthquake destroyed homes spend the night outdoors in a grassy area that is part of a hospital in Les Cayes, Haiti, late Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. A powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck southwestern Haiti on Saturday. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

LES CAYES, Haiti (AP) — Under Haiti’s burning heat, Jennie Auguste lies with a lost, thousand-yard stare on a flimsy foam mattress placed on an airport’s tarmac. A resident of the southwestern part of the Caribbean nation, Auguste has wounds in the chest, abdomen and arm after the roof of the store she worked at collapsed during a powerful earthquake over the weekend.

She flashes the occasional grimace of pain while her sister or other helpful bystanders fan her. In the badly damaged coastal town of Les Cayes, health care is at capacity, so Auguste can now only wait — for space at a local hospital, or a spot on one of the small planes that are ferrying injured people to Haiti’s capital.

“There has been nothing. No help, nothing from the government,” Auguste’s sister, Bertrande, said Sunday as Haitians were still trying to take stock of everything around them as the death toll from disaster soared.

The country’s Civil Protection Agency said 1,297 dead from the magnitude 7.2 earthquake had been counted by Sunday, a day after the temblor turned thousands of structures into rubble and set off frantic rescue efforts ahead of a potential deluge from an approaching storm.

Saturday’s earthquake also left at least 5,700 people injured, with thousands more displaced from destroyed or damaged homes. After sundown Sunday, Les Cayes was darkened by intermittent blackouts, and many people slept outside again, clutching small transistor radios tuned to news, terrified of the continuing aftershocks.

The devastation could soon worsen with the coming of Tropical Depression Grace, which is predicted to reach Haiti on Monday night. The civil protection agency said Haitians must expect strong winds, heavy rain, rough seas, landslides and flooding.

Officials said more than 7,000 homes were destroyed and nearly 5,000 damaged. Hospitals, schools, offices and churches were also affected.

The quake centered about 125 kilometers (78 miles) west of the capital of Port-au-Prince nearly razed some towns and triggered landslides that hampered rescue efforts in a country that is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. It already was struggling with the worsening poverty, the coronavirus pandemic, the political uncertainty following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a wave of gang violence.

In a scene widely repeated across the quake zone, families salvaged their few belongings in Les Cayes and spent the night on a soccer field. People lined up to buy what little was available: bananas, avocados and water at a street market.

Workers tore through rubble of collapsed buildings with heavy machinery, shovels and picks.

Underlining the dire conditions, local officials had to negotiate with gangs in the seaside district of Martissant to allow two humanitarian convoys a day to pass through the area, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported. The agency called Haiti’s southern peninsula a “hotspot for gang-related violence,” where humanitarian workers have been repeatedly attacked.

The agency said the area has been “virtually unreachable” over the past two months because of road blocks and security concerns. Agency spokeswoman Anna Jefferys said the first convoy passed through Sunday with government and U.N. personnel. She added that the U.N.’s World Food Program plans to send in food supplies via trucks Tuesday.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry has declared a one-month state of emergency for the whole country and said that first aid convoys organized by the government had started moving help to areas where towns were destroyed and hospitals were overwhelmed.

“We salute the dignity, the resilience effort of the victims and their ability to start over,” Henry told reporters. “From my observations, I deduce that Haitians want to live and progress. Let us unite to offer these people a living environment conducive to development.”

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said humanitarian needs are acute, with many Haitians urgently needing health care, clean water and shelter. Children who have been separated from parents need protection, she said.

Alluding to the 2010 earthquake that ravaged Haiti’s capital, killing tens of thousands, Fore said: “Little more than a decade on, Haiti is reeling once again. And this disaster coincides with political instability, rising gang violence, alarmingly high rates of malnutrition among children, and the COVID-19 pandemic — for which Haiti has received just 500,000 vaccine doses, despite requiring far more.”

The country of 11 million people received its first batch of U.S.-donated coronavirus vaccines only last month via a United Nations program for low-income countries.

Medical workers from across the region were scrambling to help as hospitals in Les Cayes started running out of space to perform surgeries.

“Basically, they need everything,” said Dr. Inobert Pierre, a pediatrician with the nonprofit Health Equity International, which oversees 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,” added Pierre, who visited two hospitals in Les Cayes — one with some 200 patients, the other with around 90. “We anticipate a lot of infections.”

Pierre’s medical team was taking some patients to St. Boniface to undergo surgery, but with just two ambulances, they could transport only four at a time.

Small planes from a private firm and the Florida-based missionary service Agape Flights landed at the Port-Au-Prince airport Sunday carrying about a half dozen injured from the Les Cayes area. Young men with bandages and a woman were hoisted on stretchers to waiting Haitian Red Cross ambulances.

Silvestre Plaza Rico, who was supervising one of the volunteer flights, said rescue planes had made several airlifts of about a half dozen injured victims each on Saturday. “There were many, many, many, from different towns,” Plaza Rico said.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power, who is overseeing the U.S effort to help Haiti, said Sunday that USAID was sending a search and rescue team from Virginia at the request of Haiti’s government. The 65-person team will bring specialized tools and medical supplies, she said on Twitter.

Working with USAID, the U.S. Coast Guard said a helicopter was transporting medical personnel from the Haitian capital to the quake zone and evacuating injured back to Port-au-Prince. Lt. Commander Jason Nieman, a spokesman, said other aircraft and ships were being sent.

Several members of Cuba’s 253-member health care mission to Haiti were on the scene. The socialist nation’s state media showed photos of them giving first aid to victims injured by the quake.

___

Associated Press writers Collin Binkley in Boston, Trenton Daniel in New York and Regina Garcia Cano in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Police bring down European cocaine “super cartel”

BRUSSELS (AP) — Law enforcement authorities in six different countries have joined forces to take down a “super cartel” of drugs traffickers controlling about one third of the cocaine trade in Europe, the European Union crime agency said on Monday. Europol said 49 suspects have been arrested during the investigation, with the latest series of […]
1 day ago
FILE - Democracy advocate Jimmy Lai leaves the Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong, Tues...
Associated Press

Hong Kong’s top court lets UK lawyer defend publisher Lai

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s top court on Monday upheld a ruling to let a veteran British lawyer defend a 74-year-old pro-democracy publisher at his national security trial this week despite fierce opposition from the pro-Beijing camp in the southern Chinese city. Jimmy Lai, the founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily and one of […]
1 day ago
FILE- An election commission staff separates ballot papers to count a day after the general electio...
Associated Press

Nepal’s main party leading in poll results but no majority

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal’s main ruling party was leading in last week’s parliamentary elections with most of the votes counted by Monday. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s Nepali Congress party, however, was short of securing a majority in the House of Representatives, the lower house of Parliament. Deuba’s party has won 52 seats while […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Somali forces still battling with al-Shabab in hotel attack

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somali forces were still trying to flush out armed assailants who attacked a hotel in the capital Monday, more than 12 hours after the attack started. There were reports of gunfire Monday morning. Extremist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack. There has been no immediate word of any casualties. […]
1 day ago
Toru Kubota, a Japanese journalist jailed for more than three months in Myanmar, speaks during a pr...
Associated Press

Japan filmmaker freed from Myanmar prison vows to tell story

TOKYO (AP) — Toru Kubota, a Japanese journalist who was arrested while covering a protest in military-ruled Myanmar and detained for more than three months, said his experience made him more determined to tell the story of people there. “I feel I can understand their feelings more,” he said at a news conference in Tokyo […]
1 day ago
FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping waves at an event to introduce new members of the Politburo Sta...
Associated Press

China’s Xi faces public anger over draconian ‘zero COVID’

SHANGHAI (AP) — Barely a month after granting himself new powers as China’s potential leader for life, Xi Jinping is facing a wave of public anger of the kind not seen for decades, sparked by his draconian “zero COVID” program that will soon enter its fourth year. Demonstrators poured into the streets over the weekend […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Quake injured wait for help as new disaster overwhelms Haiti