A catastrophic earthquake rocked Haiti over the weekend, toppling buildings and homes in the decrepit Caribbean nation and killing nearly 1,300 people. And now the country is bracing for a tropical storm system.
What are the details?
The 7.2-magnitude quake, which was reportedly felt in neighboring Cuba and Jamaica, struck about 80 miles southwest of the capital city of Port-au-Prince at 8:29 a.m. Saturday at a depth of 6.2 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The temblor flattened churches, homes, hospitals, and various other buildings, and was followed by at least another six aftershocks of 5.0-magnitude or greater in the proceeding hours.
So far, at least 1,297 people have been declared dead as a result of the earthquake and an estimated 5,700 more have suffered injuries, Reuters reported. Also, 13,694 homes were destroyed and another 13,785 were damaged, according to Haiti's Civil Protection Agency.
The U.S. Geological Survey grimly predicted that the death toll could rise to tens of thousands in the coming days and weeks. The quake was stronger than the one that reportedly killed a quarter of a million Haitians in 2010, though it hit further away from major population centers.
Videos on social media show Haitians pulling shocked survivors from the rubble of flattened buildings and homes. But it is feared that countless many remain trapped inside.
Earthquake in Haiti kills hundreds www.youtube.com
For many, the natural disaster is a horrifying reminder of the earthquake that devastated the impoverished country 11 years ago. Anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 are estimated to have died as a result of that quake.
The tragedy also comes at a time of political turmoil as the country is still reeling from the assassination of then-President Jovenel Moïse, 53, early last month. Moïse's death came amid rising violent crime and gang activity in the country, and specifically in its capital city.
To make matters worse, rescue and recovery efforts may be hampered by a tropical storm system that is expected to make landfall Monday night in Haiti.
Thankfully, Tropical Depression Grace has been downgraded to a depression from a tropical storm. But the system is still threatening to unleash flash flooding and mudslides on the country at a time when infrastructure is not prepared to handle that kind of extreme weather.
Many Haitians, now without homes, will be forced to sleep in the open for nights to come as the country scrambles to treat the wounded and execute a response plan.
Moreover, officials say the hospitals that remain operable are overwhelmed given the number of wounded and the scarcity of facilities.
"We do have a serious issue," Jerry Chandler, head of the 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."
"I'm the only surgeon over there," Dr. Edward Destine, an orthopedic surgeon in Les Cayes told the New York Times. "I would like to operate on 10 people today, but I just don't have the supplies."
Mass evacuation remains difficult, as well, due to Haiti's crumbling road and transportation systems. Still, officials are expressing hope optimism about managing the disaster and several neighboring countries and organizations have promised to lend aid.
Included among those extending help is "the United States Agency for International Development, which sent a search-and-rescue team, and the U.S. Coast Guard, which said it had deployed helicopters to provide humanitarian aid," the Times reported.