Death Toll Rises After Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake Rocks Haiti

A massive search and rescue was underway Sunday in northern Haiti after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake rocked the region, killing at least 12 people, injuring more than 180 and damaging dozens of homes and businesses.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit at 8:11 p.m. Saturday local time and was centered 12 miles northwest of Port-de-Paix on Haiti’s north coast. Heavy rains that flooded streets in the region hindered first responders.

The quake and its aftershocks set off panic in some neighborhoods, but President Jovenel Moïse  and other leaders called for calm.

“I am in constant contact with the PM Jean-Henry Ceant, who is coordinating the relief operations,” Moïse said on Twitter. “I asked him to mobilize all the resources of the republic to help the people.”

The global humanitarian aid organization Mercy Corps said it was deploying team members to evaluate the impact on the region and attempt to meet the most immediate needs of residents.

Jessica Pearl, Mercy Corps country director in Haiti, said the area is mountainous, remote and contains some of the island’s greatest poverty.

“Which means there is less concrete construction,” Pearl said. “Homes and buildings made of stone or mud brick are at greater risk of being damaged by a seismic event. It is also a very difficult area to access.”

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Source: USA Today