BREAKING NEWS: Tsunami alert issued as powerful earthquake strikes western Haiti

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Aljazeera – A 7.2 magnitude earthquake has struck western Haiti, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said, causing several deaths and damaging buildings in the disaster-plagued Caribbean nation.

The magnitude 7.2 earthquake on Saturday struck 8km (5 miles) from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, about 150 km west of the capital Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 10 km, the USGS said.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) also reported a quake in the region, saying it was magnitude 7.6, while Cuba’s seismological centre said it registered a magnitude of 7.4.

The USGS issued a tsunami warning, saying waves of up to three metres (nearly 10 feet) were possible along the coastline of Haiti, but it soon lifted the warning.

The long shock was felt throughout Haiti and in neighbouring Caribbean countries, and material damage was recorded in the southwestern peninsula of the island.

“Lots of homes are destroyed, people are dead and some are at the hospital,” Christella Saint Hilaire, who lives near the epicenter, told AFP.

“Everyone is in the street now and the shocks keep coming,” she added.

The country is still recovering from a magnitude 7 earthquake closer to the capital 11 years ago that killed more than 200,000 and injuring some 300,000 others.

More than a million and a half Haitians were made homeless, leaving island authorities and the international humanitarian community with a colossal challenge in a country lacking either a land registry or building codes.

The quake destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, as well as administrative buildings and schools, not to mention 60 percent of Haiti’s health-care system.

The rebuilding of the country’s main hospital remains incomplete, and nongovernmental organizations have struggled to make up for the state’s many deficiencies.

Haiti has also been in a state of political turmoil since July when President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen, shaking a country already battling poverty, spiraling gang violence and Covid-19.

“This country just never finds a break! Each year of mismanagement did not hurt but the cumulative effects made us vulnerable to everything,” said Haitian entrepreneur Marc Alain Boucicault on Twitter. “Its going to take years to fix things and we have not even started!”

The quake was felt as far as Cuba and Jamaica although there were no reports of material damage, deaths or injuries there.

“Everyone is really afraid. It’s been years since such a big earthquake,” said Daniel Ross, a resident in the eastern Cuban city of Guantanamo. He said his home stood firm but the furniture shook.

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