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The 7.2 magnitude quake sent shockwaves which were felt across the Caribbean as far as Cuba and Jamaica.
It struck five miles from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, 100 miles west of the capital Port-au-Prince, and a 5.2 magnitude aftershock was recorded 20 minutes later.
At least 29 had been killed in the quake said Civil Protection Director Jerry Chandler. However, the US Geological Survey said deaths could be in the “thousands” with tens of thousands of injuries.
Witnesses told of people desperately trying to rescue those trapped under rubble.
Sephora Pierre Louis, from Port-au-Prince, said: “I heard people screaming. They were flying outside. At least they know to go outside. In 2010 they didn’t know what to do.”
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It comes as the poverty-stricken country is still coming to terms with last month’s assassination of President Jovenel Moise, while many areas are facing growing hunger and healthcare services are overwhelmed by Covid.
To make matters worse, emergency access to the southern region, where the quake struck, is restricted by gang control of key areas.
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