President Joe Biden has authorized U.S. aid for Haiti following a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck off the nation's coast Saturday morning that left nearly 30 dead, according to authorities.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were briefed on the matter by the national security adviser and the secretary of state Saturday, after which the president authorized an immediate response and named USAID Administrator Samantha Power as the senior official who would coordinate the effort.
The earthquake, whose epicenter was about 7.5 miles northeast of the coastal city of Saint-Louis-du-Sud, hit at approximately 8:29 a.m. local time, according to the United States Geological Survey. At least 29 deaths and several damaged buildings have been reported in cities near the epicenter, and the USGS estimates that "high casualties are probable and the disaster is likely widespread."
Some in the country's capital of Port-au-Prince, located about 78 miles east of the fault zone, reported feeling the quake, but significant damage there has not been reported.
Ralph Simon, a radio station owner in the southwestern city of Jeremie, said homes and other buildings were leveled or damaged and that he saw two corpses in the rubble.
"The impact of this is huge," Simon said, according to the Washington Post. "I was still in bed with my children and my wife. My wife had a heart attack, and I had to save her life. … There are damage to house. People are crying."
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 14, 2021
Notable quake, preliminary info: M 7.2 - 12 km NE of Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti https://t.co/tnySNtAOq3
— USGS Earthquakes (@USGS_Quakes) August 14, 2021
"It's a dire situation. People died," Silvera Guillaume, a civil protection coordinator in Les Cayes, told the outlet. "There are people right now under the rubble. We deployed first responders to go and remove rubble, but we do not have enough first responders."
The earthquake likely occurred within the same fault system as the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010, according to the USGS.
Port-au-Prince and nearby regions suffered significant damage after the 2010 quake, causing more than 200,000 fatalities.
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Original Author: Jeremy Beaman