Haiti is frantically searching for survivors of a deadly earthquake that leveled towns and cities on Saturday. The 7.2-magnitude earthquake came during a time when Haiti was already battling two other crises: containing the COVID-19 pandemic and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
According to the Associated Press, the official death toll reached 1,297 on Sunday and thousands more were left injured and displaced. Rescue efforts have been slowed down by massive landslides triggered by the quake and aftershocks still felt on Sunday.
And as the search continues, tropical depression Grace is predicted to reach Haiti as soon as Monday night. Although the storm weakened over the weekend, rains of at least 15 inches are still expected as well as mudslides, strong winds and more.
It has also been a struggle to get supplies to the earthquake’s epicenter as authorities attempted to negotiate with gangs controlling roads leading to the southern region. According to the AP, the negotiations led to two convoys a day being allowed to pass through.
From the AP:
Prime Minister Ariel Henry has declared a one-month state of emergency for the whole country and said that first government aid convoys had started moving help to areas where towns were destroyed and hospitals were overwhelmed.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said humanitarian needs were acute, with many Haitians urgently needing health care, clean water and shelter. Children separated from their parents also needed protection, she said.”
Henry was just sworn in on July 20 as acting president following the assassination of President Moïse and a power struggle between him and the man he was to replace as prime minister, Claude Joseph.
Organizations like USAID, UNICEF, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Health Equity International in Haiti have been working on getting aid and humanitarian needs such as medical supplies, food and water to the devastated areas. Haiti’s entire coastline has been under close surveillance for signs of the storm.