Haiti earthquake leaves at least 11 people dead

More than 135 are injured after Caribbean country is hit by a 5.9-magnitude quake

 A handout photo  shows the location of a 5.9-magnitude earthquake  near Port-de-Paix, Haiti. Photograph: USGS handout/EPA

A handout photo shows the location of a 5.9-magnitude earthquake near Port-de-Paix, Haiti. Photograph: USGS handout/EPA

 

An earthquake hit northern Haiti late on Saturday, killing at least 11 people and sparking an overnight scramble to help towns in the impoverished Caribbean country battered by the shockwave.

Police said at least seven people died and more than 100 were injured in Port-de-Paix on the northern coast, which is located near the epicentre of the magnitude 5.9 quake.

The quake struck at a depth of 11.7km, according to the US Geological Survey.

Another four people were killed in and around the town of Gros-Morne further south, local authorities said.

Rescue teams fanned out to help those affected, many of whom were still dealing with the trauma of a devastating earthquake in 2010.

Port-de-Paix, Gros-Morne, the town of Chansolme and the northern island of Tortuga were among the areas worst hit, Haiti’s civil protection agency said in a statement.

“The shock was felt across all departments of the country, giving rise to panic in several towns,” the agency said.

President Jovenel Moise urged people to remain calm, and said on Twitter he had ordered “all of the republic’s resources” to be directed towards assisting recovery efforts.

Houses destroyed

Some houses in the worst-affected areas were destroyed by the earthquake, the civil protection agency said.

Dozens of injured people were rushed to hospitals.

The civil protection agency said early on Sunday that at least 135 people were being treated for injuries.

The full extent of the destruction may not be clear until later.

Among the damaged buildings was a church in the northern town of Plaisance, the agency said.

The quake was one of the strongest to hit Haiti since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck near the capital, Port-au-Prince, in 2010. That quake killed tens of thousands of people.

Saturday’s quake was felt in Port-au-Prince, but initial reports suggested it had not caused major damage there.

Local newspaper Le Nouvelliste said one person was killed when an auditorium collapsed in Gros-Morne and that detainees were released after a police holding cell was damaged. – Reuters