Rescue workers were scrambling to find survivors after a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing at least 304 and toppling buildings in the disaster-plagued Caribbean nation still recovering from a devastating 2010 quake.
The epicenter of the shaking, which rattled homes and sent terrified locals fleeing for safety starting around 8:30 am (1230 GMT) Saturday, was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) by road west of the center of the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince.
Churches, businesses, schools and homes crumbled in the quake that trapped hundreds of victims under rubble and left at least 1,800 people injured, the country’s civil protection agency said.
Rescuers raced against the clock to find survivors, with the civil protection tweeting that efforts by “both professional rescuers and members of the public have led to many people being pulled from the rubble,” adding that already overburdened hospitals continue to receive injured.
Hours after the quake, the agency announced the death toll had jumped to 304, ticking upwards throughout the day from a first report of 29 fatalities.
The long initial quake was felt in much of the Caribbean, emanating from the epicenter at Haiti’s southwestern peninsula.
The civil protection said at least 160 people were killed in the country’s South department alone.
“Lots of homes are destroyed, people are dead and some are at the hospital,” 21-year-old Christella Saint Hilaire, who lives near the epicenter, told AFP.
Hospitals in the regions hardest hit by the quake were already struggling to provide emergency care and at least three were completely full, according to Jerry Chandler, head of the civil protection agency. (Guardian)