Haiti’s hospitals were swamped on Sunday by thousands of injured residents after a devastating earthquake the day before killed at least 1,297 people as authorities raced to bring doctors to the worst-hit areas before a major storm hits.
The 7.2 magnitude quake on Saturday destroyed thousands of homes and buildings in a Caribbean nation which is still clawing its way back from another major temblor 11 years ago and is reeling from the assassination of its president last month.
Southwestern Haiti bore the brunt of the blow, especially in the region in and around the town of Les Cayes. Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency said the toll from the disaster had climbed to 1,297 and the hospitals that were still functioning were struggling to cope as some 5,700 people were injured.
In the northwestern city of Jeremie, another badly hit area, doctors treated injured patients on hospital stretchers underneath trees and on mattresses by the side of the road, as healthcare centers have run out of space.
“We do have a serious issue,” Jerry Chandler, the head of Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency, told Reuters.
“There are very important facilities that are dysfunctional as we speak and those that are functional are receiving an overflow of patients,” he said.
The challenge facing Haiti has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, a severe economic downturn aggravated by fierce gang violence, and a political crisis that has engulfed the troubled nation after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7.
Churches, hotels, hospitals and schools were badly damaged or destroyed, while the walls of a prison were rent open by the violent shudders that convulsed Haiti. Some 13,694 houses were destroyed, the civil protection agency said, suggesting the toll could rise further.