A massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey said, raising fears of destruction similar to the devastating 2010 quake that shattered the country.
At least 304 people have died and more than 1,800 were injured, according to Haiti’s civil protection service. The USGS predicts the death toll could reach into the thousands.
In a news conference on Saturday evening, the head of the country’s civil protection agency, Jerry Chandler, said 304 people had been confirmed dead – up from an initial toll of 29 – while at least 1,800 others were injured.
Chandler told reporters 160 of the deaths were reported in Haiti’s southern department; 42 were in Nippes; 100 were in Grand Anse, and two were in the country’s northwest.
The earthquake struck on Saturday morning 12km (7.4 miles) northeast of Saint-Louis du Sud, on Haiti’s southern Tiburon Peninsula, at a shallow depth of 10km (6.2 miles), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported.
It is the latest crisis to befall the Caribbean nation, which is struggling amid widespread gang violence and ongoing political instability in the aftermath of the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last month.