It seems like Haiti can’t catch a break. News reports of a powerful earthquake off the coast of Haiti continue to trickle in.
A 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the island off the western coast, northeast of Saint-Louis du Sud. This is larger than the earthquake that hit the island in 2010, causing devastation in the capital region.
According to CNN, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated “high casualties” and damage. But it’s too early for a detailed assessment. The initial impact was felt across the Caribbean, with several islands reporting after the initial quake. An earlier tsunami warning has passed, but the threat of danger still lingers.
Meteorologist Janessa Webb tweeted it was the biggest earthquake to hit the island since 1842. Speaking on MSNBC’s Cross Connection Saturday morning, Webb said there had been multiple aftershocks hampering efforts with recovery.
An aftershock of 5.2 was registered, with more expected throughout the day. For context, this is approximately the size of an earthquake that hit the island in 2018.
Experts have characterized the earthquake as being more shallow than the 2010 earthquake and stress the current quakes distance from the capital, but the devastation is undeniable.
Pictures on social media Saturday morning showed damage in Les Cayes, Jacmel, and Jérémie.
As many lift prayers up for Haiti, some on social media encourage people to hold off on donations until verified links can be posted. Despite close to half a billion raised for alleged relief efforts, it is unclear where the money went because it didn’t rebuild roads and schools as promised.
Haiti still has not recovered from the 2010 earthquake that left devastation in the capital city of Port-au-Prince and other parts of the country. A 2015 investigation by ProPublica and NPR found the Red Cross had only built six permanent homes.
While the Red Cross maintained it spent all the money directly helping Haitians recover, many interviewed said they did not see a dime. But per the ProPublica and NPR review, the Red Cross relied upon third parties with money raised covering fees and administrative costs and not directly supporting people.
By early Saturday afternoon, it was estimated at least 29 people died in the earthquake and its aftermath. As world leaders chimed in with their condolences, President Joe Biden authorized “immediate” help to the country.
A few weeks ago, activists called on the Biden administration to halt deportations of Haitians back to a country in disarray. Haiti is still processing the aftermath of the assassination of the nation’s prime minister just weeks ago.
NBC News reported the new prime minister took to social media urging solidarity and calm. He said government resources would be mobilized to respond to the “violent earthquake.”
“I appeal to the spirit of solidarity and commitment of all Haitians in order to unite to face this dramatic situation that we are currently experiencing. Unity is strength,” he tweeted.