According to the US Geological Survey, the tremor's epicentre was recorded 20 km from Port-de-Pai at a depth of 15.3 km at 8.11 p.m. on Saturday, reports Efe news. According to a statement from the country's Civil Protection agency, several people were injured in Port-de-Paix, Gros-Morne, Chansolme and Tortuga island, where houses were destroyed or damaged.
Haitian Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant took to Twitter to urge people to remain calm following the earthquake and provide details on the emergency response.
Shortly after the earthquake, President Jovenel Moise urged the population to remain calm, adding that the risk management system and regional civil protection directorates were on alert to help residents of affected areas where access was difficult due to poor infrastructure.
“I urge the population to keep calm, following the passage of the earthquake whose epicenter is located in the northwest coast,” Haitian President Jovenel Moïse posted on Twitter. “The [disaster] risk management system and the regional branches of the Civil Protection are on standby to assist the inhabitants of the affected areas.”
Jerry Chandler, the head of the country’s Civil Protection disaster response unit said “Search and rescue, and assessment still ongoing,” said Chandler, who had teams activated throughout the northwest and in Gros Morne.
Civil Protection also reported in its statement that teams were working throughout the country, especially in the northwest where two minor aftershocks have been recorded.
Director for the ministry of health in the northwest, Tony Mondestin, said that 162 people suffered minor injuries in the northwest region and eight were seriously injured. He said help had arrived from Port-au-Prince including an ambulance, a surgeon, a nurse and medical supplies.
According to a Miami Herald report, Josué Alusma the principal mayor of Port-de-Paix which has a population of over 462,000 inhabitants, is in hiding, after being accused of orchestrating the death of one of two assistant mayors with a backhoe earlier this year. As as result, residents and public works employees were left to fend for themselves in the wake of the quake.
Last month after tremors were felt in Fort-Liberté, Cap-Haïtien and Grande Rivière du Nord, the director of the Bureau of Mines and Energy, Claude Prépetit, said in a press conference that northern Haiti, the west and Nippes regions, were most at risk for a major quake and warned Haitian authorities.
A geological engineer whose office monitors seismic activity, Prépetit said Haiti’s seismic detection system had recorded about 26 earthquakes between 2.9 and 4.6 on the Richter scale during the first eight months of this year.
Minutes after the quake, reports started trickling in about houses, a Catholic church and the main police station in Port-de-Paix being destroyed or damaged.
“Civil Protection teams are hard at work across the country and especially in the northwest, where two minor aftershocks have been felt,” the office said in a release. It confirmed that no tsunami warning was issued in connection with the earthquake.
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