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Health, Science and Environment

What We Know About The Situation In Haiti, Days After The Massive Earthquake

A woman walks past a collapsed building in Jeremie, Haiti, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, four days after the city was struck by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.
A woman walks past a collapsed building in Jeremie, Haiti, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, four days after the city was struck by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

Updated August 19, 2021 at 6:32 AM ET

As the death toll continues to rise in Haiti five days after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the country, tensions among the most desperate are rising.

The devastating earthquake struck the southwestern part of the island on Saturday. By Wednesday, the death toll surpassed 2,000, according to Haiti's Civil Protection Agency. More than 12, 200 people were injured, according to official counts.

More than 330 people remain missing and search and rescue operations continue, the agency said.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Wednesday appealed for unity in Haiti.

"We have to put our heads together to rebuild Haiti," he said. "The country is physically and mentally destroyed.

Tensions are rising as aid is slow going

A crane removes a truck from a pile of rocks after landslides triggered by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit four days prior in River Glass, Haiti, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.
Matias Delacroix / AP
A crane removes a truck from a pile of rocks after landslides triggered by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit four days prior in River Glass, Haiti, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

Search and rescue operations resumed Tuesday after Tropical Storm Grace left the island.

Due to landslides, heavily damaged infrastructure, and security risks posed by groups of gangs along the route used by humanitarian organizations, relief is slow getting to Haitian citizens.

USAID said a reliance on air and sea transportation is limiting the frequency and volume of aid deliveries. Relief convoys started arriving in Jérémie and Les Cayes on Tuesday, according to the UN.

People are fed up over the slow pace, according to reports from The Associated Press.

At the airport in Les Cayes, one of the hardest-hit areas, groups of people gathered outside the fence as an aid flight landed and crews unloaded the plane. An officer from the Haitian national police working to guard the shipments fired two warning shots to disperse a group of young men, the AP reported.

Elsewhere, angry crowds gathered at a collapsed building, demanding tarps and other temporary shelters, the AP said.

More than 1 million people are affected

The earthquake's devastation is centered in the country's southwestern area, particularly in the city of Les Cayes.

UNICEF estimates roughly 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, have been impacted by both the earthquake and the storm that followed days later.

The humanitarian organization estimates that it will need at least $15 million to respond to the most urgent needs of at least 385,000 people. That's including 167,000 children under the age of five for a period lasting at least eight weeks.

Thousands of homes and buildings were destroyed

Residents whose homes were damaged during the earthquake campout at a soccer field in Les Cayes, Haiti, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.
Fernando Llano / AP
Residents whose homes were damaged during the earthquake campout at a soccer field in Les Cayes, Haiti, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.

The quake, which occurred along the same fault line as the one in 2010 that killed over 200,000, has destroyed more than 83,000 homes.

USAID is coordinating relief efforts in Haiti to distribute blankets, hygiene kits, kitchen kits, and shelter repair items to support at least 50,000 people, the agency said.

Hospitals struggle to operate in the days after

People injured in Saturday's 7.2-magnitude earthquake and their relatives, crowd in an emergency room at the Saint Antoine hospital in Jeremie, Haiti, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.
Matias Delacroix / AP
People injured in Saturday's 7.2-magnitude earthquake and their relatives, crowd in an emergency room at the Saint Antoine hospital in Jeremie, Haiti, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

Injured Haitians--including young children--are still struggling to get proper medical help days after the quake.

USAID says functioning health care facilities in damaged towns and cities have insufficient medical staff, supplies, and fuel. Others have significant earthquake damage and problems accessing electricity and water.

On Wednesday, USAID reported at least 24 damaged or destroyed health facilities in Haiti, further limiting access to health care for Haitians after the quake.

Five facilities were damaged or destroyed in Grand'Anse and Nippes, according to USAID.

In badly hit Les Cayes, hospitals and other health care facilities were operational, but were using power provided by generators and had little else for fuel supplies.

This week, UNICEF said it delivered medical kits to three hospitals in Les Cayes – including gloves, painkillers, antibiotics and syringes – to treat 30,000 earthquake victims. Local nurses and doctors are still reporting there are no medicines, like antibiotics, paid medication or even aspirin, to send patients home with.

In Jérémie, all five of the commune's health care facilities lacked proper fuel, medical supplies, and personnel. In the days following the quake, people from rural areas continued to arrive seeking medical aid.

Most hospitals in the heavily damaged towns were attempting to transfer patients with severe trauma injuries to Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince.

Teams are still finding and treating injured people

A truck drives past by collapsed building in Jeremie, Haiti, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, four days after the city was struck by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Matias Delacroix / AP
A truck drives past by collapsed building in Jeremie, Haiti, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, four days after the city was struck by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Some officials have suggested the search phase should end and crews should be allowed to come in to clear rubble. But Haiti's leader, Henry, wants the search to continue for a bit longer, the AP reported.

"Some of our citizens are still under the debris. We have teams of foreigners and Haitians working on it," he said.

Local crews are still finding injured people coming from rural areas of Haiti.

The Civil Protection Agency reported that 15 people were found in the commune of Torbeck that were injured and needed help.

The World Health Organization hinted at the long-term impact of Saturday's earthquake, declaring an emergency for Haiti and neighboring Dominican Republic for the rest of the year.

The Haitian leader, Henry, in a post on Twitter Wednesday, promised Haitians that his administration will work to not "repeat history on the mismanagement and coordination of aid." He was referencing to the chaos that followed Haiti's 2010 earthquake, in which the government was accused of not properly dispersing money raised by donors to the people.

He said he will "personally ensure this help reaches the real victims."

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