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Death toll of powerful earthquake in Haiti soars to 1,297

Haiti Earthquake
APTOPIX Haiti Earthquake
Posted at 12:22 PM, Aug 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-15 21:24:54-04

LES CAYES, Haiti -- The death toll from the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that battered Haiti is soaring as rescuers race to find survivors amid the rubble ahead of a potential deluge from an approaching tropical rain storm.

Authorities on Sunday raised the casualty toll to at least 1,297 dead and 5,700 injured.

Thousands more are displaced from their destroyed or damaged homes.

Survivors in some areas are sheltering in streets or soccer fields with their few salvaged belongings while overloaded hospitals scramble to help those who were injured.

The devastation could soon worsen with the coming of Tropical Depression Grace, which is predicted to reach Haiti on Monday night, bringing the potential for heavy rain, flooding and landslides.

Haiti Earthquake
Firefighters search for survivors inside a collapsed building, after Saturday´s 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

U.S. Geological Survey officials said the quake struck 7 miles from the town of Saint-Louis du Sud, at a depth of 10 km, the USGS said. That is 78 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince.

The earthquake almost razed some towns.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry says aid was being deployed to areas where towns were destroyed and hospitals overwhelmed with incoming patients.

Henry declared a one-month state of emergency for the nation.

U.S. President Joe Biden authorized an immediate response and named USAID Administrator Samantha Power as the senior official coordinating the U.S effort to help Haiti.

"High casualties are probable and the disaster is likely widespread" and that "past events with this alert level have required a national or international level response," USGS officials said.

The disaster added to the plight of Haitians, who already were struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, deepening poverty and a presidential assassination.

The impoverished country is vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes.

And there are fears the widespread damage will worsen with Tropical Depression Grace.