Watch CBS News

Haiti earthquake leaves over 300 dead, hundreds injured or missing

get the free app
  • link copied
7.2 magnitude earthquake strikes Haiti, killing hundreds 01:10

A powerful earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday morning, killing at least 304 people and leaving hundreds of others hurt, authorities said. The 7.2 magnitude quake was strong enough to be felt in neighboring countries.

Haitian officials said more than 1,800 people were injured in the disaster, some of whom were being treated in hospitals in the three most affected communities.

The epicenter of the quake was 7.5 miles northeast of Saint-Louis du Sud, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That's about 78 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

"High casualties are probable and the disaster is likely widespread," the USGS said. "Past events with this alert level have required a national or international level response." A tsunami warning was issued immediately after the quake but later lifted.

Residents shared images on social media of the ruins of concrete buildings, which AFP reports included a church in which a ceremony was apparently underway in the southwestern town of Les Anglais. Part of the Sacred Heart church in Les Cayes and the home of the bishop there also collapsed.

Haiti Earthquake
Sacred Heart church in Les Cayes, Haiti, is damaged after an earthquake on Saturday, August 14, 2021. Delot Jean / AP

People in the capital city of Port-au-Prince felt the tremor and many rushed into the streets in fear.

Naomi Verneus, a 34-year-old resident of Port-au-Prince, said she was jolted awake by the earthquake and that her bed was shaking.

"I woke up and didn't have time to put my shoes on. We lived the 2010 earthquake and all I could do was run. I later remembered my two kids and my mother were still inside. My neighbor went in and told them to get out. We ran to the street," Verneus said.

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake jolts Haiti
People look at damaged buildings in Jeremie, Haiti, after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the country on August 14, 2021. Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Haiti was previously devastated by a massive earthquake on January 12, 2010, which was one of the deadliest natural disasters in the history of the Western Hemisphere. That magnitude 7.0 quake near Port-au-Prince killed an estimated 250,000 people, and the island is still recovering. 


Landslide causes road closure

A landslide triggered by the earthquake blocked National Road 7, according to Haiti's Civil Protection Service. The highway, which connects Les Cayes and Jérémie, was cut off near the Glace River, it said. 

"An operation is underway to restore circulation," the Civil Protection Service said Saturday afternoon. 

By Tori B. Powell

Death toll rises to 304, with more than 1,800 injured

The death toll from the earthquake has increased to at least 304, and more than 1,800 others have been reported wounded, Haiti's Civil Protection Service tweeted. It called those figures a "partial assessment." Officials in Haiti held a briefing Saturday evening with the latest updates.

The Civil Protection Service said 160 of the deaths were reported in Sud, the department that includes the city of Les Cayes; 100 in Grand'Anse, whose capital is Jérémie; 42 in Nippes, and 2 in Nord-Ouest. Some of those injured have been taken to local hospitals, they said.

By Tori B. Powell

Scientists forecast aftershocks to continue in coming weeks

There have so far been four aftershocks in Haiti of magnitude 5 or greater since the massive earthquake Saturday morning, and more are expected to come in the coming days and weeks, according to geophysicist William Barnhart with the U.S. Geological Survey. He said aftershocks should decrease in frequency and magnitude over time.

"There will continue to be aftershocks and there will be aftershocks that people will feel in that region and could potentially cause continued damage to buildings," Barnhart told CBSN's Tom Hanson on Saturday. 

Barnhart said that, similar to the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, Saturday's quake was shallow, "so that means that the ground shaking from this earthquake would have been quite extreme."

He said the USGS issued a red alert as a result of the earthquake, and that it estimates the death toll from the quake could exceed 10,000 based on an estimate of ground shaking and how many people were exposed to the earthquake. Barnhart said the country could potentially lose between 6 to 60% of its GDP in economic losses. 

Haiti struck by deadly 7.2 magnitude earthquake 06:45
By Tori B. Powell

UNICEF on the ground to provide assistance

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says it has teams on the ground to assist children and families affected by the earthquake. 

"We are deeply saddened by the reports of casualties and heavy damage following the earthquake earlier today in Haiti," Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Haiti, said in a statement, CBS News' Pamela Falk reports. "UNICEF is working with Government and non-government partners to provide support to affected communities. We stand in solidarity with families and children during this difficult time."

U.N. Secretary-General António Gutteres said on Twitter that his "heart goes out to all affected by the earthquake," and that the U.N. is working to support rescue and relief efforts.

By Tori B. Powell

At least 227 dead, hundreds injured and missing

The earthquake death toll has increased to 227, and hundreds of others are wounded and missing, Haiti's Civil Protection Service tweeted

The Civil Protection Service said many victims were able to be pulled from the rubble and that hospitals continue to receive injured survivors.

By Tori B. Powell

Haiti officials survey disaster areas by helicopter

Members of Haiti's government, including the minister of defense and Prime Minister Ariel Henry, are surveying disaster areas by helicopter for the first assessment of the damage, the ministry of defense tweeted Saturday. 

By Tori B. Powell

Local hospitals overwhelmed as teams work to care for survivors, prime minister says

Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry says local hospitals "are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people" in wake of the earthquake, The Associated Press reports.

"The needs are enormous," he said. "We must take care of the injured and fractured, but also provide food, aid, temporary shelter and psychological support."

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry speaks during a press conference in Port-au-Prince on August 14, 2021, after an earthquake struck the southwest peninsula of the country. REGINALD LOUISSAINT JR/AFP via Getty Images

Henry said the International Red Cross and hospitals in areas unaffected by the earthquake were helping to care for the injured. 

The Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development said disaster experts are at the scene assessing the damage and needs. 

A building damaged by the earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, on August 14, 2021. Reuters
By Tori B. Powell

Tropical Storm Grace may threaten Haiti

Earthquake recovery could be complicated by Tropical Storm Grace, which the National Hurricane Center says may impact the island with rain and wind Monday night. Four to seven inches of rainfall are being predicted for Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which could bring flash flooding and trigger landslides.

"There is a risk of wind and rainfall impacts across the rest of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, and Florida next week, and interests in those areas should monitor the progress of Grace and updates to the forecast," the center wrote in an advisory Saturday. 

It added that "additional watches and warnings will likely be required for this area."

Tropical storm watches and warnings are in effect for areas including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis among others.  

By Tori B. Powell

Haitian government declares state of emergency

Haiti's prime minister, Dr. Ariel Henry, declared a state of emergency which will last for one month in response to the earthquake. 

"We will make the necessary arrangements to assist people affected by the earthquake in the Southern Peninsula," Henry wrote on Twitter. "We must show a lot of solidarity with regard to the emergency."

People look at damage from the earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, on August 14, 2021. Reuters
By Tori B. Powell

Biden authorizes U.S. assistance

The White House said President Biden and Vice President Harris were briefed on the situation in Haiti by national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Mr. Biden authorized an immediate U.S. response and named USAID Administrator Samantha Power as the senior U.S. official to coordinate the effort.

"In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti this morning," Mr. Biden said in a statement. "We send our deepest condolences to all those who lost a loved one or saw their homes and businesses destroyed."


Haiti prime minister: ″Violent quake″ caused deaths, damage

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said on Twitter that the ″violent quake″ had caused loss of life and damage in various parts of the country.

He said he would mobilize all available government resources to help victims and appealed to Haitians to unify as they ″confront this dramatic situation in which we're living right now.′

The quake comes just over a month after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen, shaking a country already battling poverty, spiraling gang violence and COVID-19.

By Stephen Smith

Videos and images appear to show chaos, panic

Videos and images posted to social media appear to show chaotic scenes in Haiti after the powerful earthquake.  

Some images posted on social media — which CBS News could not immediately verify — showed homes and part of a church in the town of Jeremie reduced to rubble. 

Another video from the town appears to show a woman writhing in pain with the caption: "Hospitals are overwhelmed and there is a lack of staff to provide first aid to the victims."

Another video appears to show panicked residents running through the streets.

By Stephen Smith

"Lots of homes are destroyed"

Residents in Haiti described a scene of chaos and destruction after the earthquake struck.

"Lots of homes are destroyed, people are dead and some are at the hospital," Christella Saint Hilaire, who lives near the epicenter, told AFP. "Everyone is in the street now and the shocks keep coming."

Naomi Verneus, a 34-year-old resident of Port-au-Prince, said she was jolted awake by the earthquake and that her bed was shaking.

"I woke up and didn't have time to put my shoes on. We lived the 2010 earthquake and all I could do was run. I later remembered my two kids and my mother were still inside. My neighbor went in and told them to get out. We ran to the street," Verneus said.

By Stephen Smith

"High casualties are probable," USGS says

The U.S. Geological Survey issued a red alert for shaking-related deaths after the powerful earthquake.

"High casualties are probable and the disaster is likely widespread," the USGS said. "Past events with this alert level have required a national or international level response."

The USGS notes that structures in Haiti are especially vulnerable to earthquake shaking.

"The predominant vulnerable building types are mud wall and adobe block construction," the survey said.

By Stephen Smith

Haiti authorities say "there are deaths" after quake

The powerful 7.2-magnitude quake that struck Haiti Saturday caused multiple deaths, local authorities said.

"I can confirm that there are deaths, but I don't yet have an exact toll," Jerry Chandler, Haiti's director of civil protection, told AFP. "We're still collecting information."

He said the country's emergency operations center had been activated and Prime Minister Ariel Henry was headed there.

By Stephen Smith
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.