227 are reported dead after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake – more powerful than the catastrophic quake of 2010 – hit Haiti

Scenes of devastation from the Haiti earthquake
Scenes of devastation from the Haiti earthquake
  • A 7.2 magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of Haiti.
  • The country's civil protection agency says that at least 227 people have been killed in the quake.
  • Haiti is still recovering from a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated the country in 2010.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Haiti's civil protection agency announced Saturday afternoon that at least 227 people have been killed after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the country, according to The Associated Press.

The quake struck the country at roughly 8:30 a.m. local time, some 7.5 miles northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud, and more than 90 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Then, 20 minutes after the first quake, a 5.2-magnitude tremor struck the island.

Videos from social media show destroyed buildings and distressed voices shouting as the population reels from the disaster.

"High casualties are probable and the disaster is likely widespread," according to the USGS.

Flooding appears to have started in the country, raising the risk for more damage to follow the quake, which was felt as far as Cuba and Jamaica.

"I extend my sympathies to the parents of the victims of this violent earthquake which caused several losses of human and material lives in several geographical departments of the country," said Ariel Henry, Haiti's new prime minister.

He later added: "The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble. We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people."

"I can confirm that there are deaths, but I don't yet have an exact toll," Jerry Chandler, Haiti's director of civil protection, told AFP. "We're still collecting information."

The US Tsunami Warning System has forecasted "hazardous tsunami waves," with predictions of waves reaching up to three meters above the tide level along the coast of Haiti.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the country in 2010, killing between 220,000 and 300,000 people.

The impoverished Caribbean nation, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, is still recovering from the 2010 disaster. There were 52 aftershocks that followed the 2010 quake, which raises the question of how much damage is still yet to come from today's tremor.

In 2017, the United Nations (UN) stated that 2.5 million Haitians still needed aid following the quake that devastated the country seven years earlier.

At the time, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mourad Wahba gave a harrowing account of the challenges that the country continued to face.

"There are still about 55,000 people in camps and makeshift camps," he said. "Many are still living in unsanitary conditions due to displacement caused by the earthquake. We have a very long way to go."

The quake also comes amid unrest following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in his home last month.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were briefed on the quake by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and the Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday morning, according to a White House official.

The president has authorized an immediate response and tapped Samantha Power, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator, to coordinate the efforts in aiding Haiti.

This breaking news story has been updated.

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