(CNN) – Update Sunday 11:50 am (Miami time): The death toll from Saturday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti rose to 724, according to Haiti’s civil protection agency. Most of the deaths occurred in the south of the country, where at least 500 people are known to have died.
Civil protection agency officials also say another 2,800 people were injured in the earthquake, which also damaged several cities, burying people in the rubble of collapsed buildings. They also say that so far 2,868 houses have been completely destroyed and 5,410 damaged.
State of emergency
The Haitian government declared a state of emergency after at least 304 people died in a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the country on Saturday morning, Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced at a press conference.
At the time of the declaration, more than 1,800 people had been injured, reported the country’s civil protection service.
“When it comes to medical needs, this is our greatest urgency. We have begun to send medications and medical personnel to the facilities that are affected,” said Henry. “For people who need urgent special attention, we have evacuated a number of them and will evacuate a few more today and tomorrow.”
The state of emergency will be in the West Department, South Department, Nippes and Grand’Anse.
A hospital in the southern city of Jeremie said it is overwhelmed with patients.
“There are a lot of people coming in, a lot of people,” an administrator at the Hospital Saint Antoine told CNN. “We don’t have enough supplies.”
The hospital set up tents in its yard, the administrator said.
The earthquake occurred about 1 kilometer northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud and 10 kilometers deep, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
“There are reports of significant damage to homes, roads and infrastructure,” said American Red Cross spokeswoman Katie Wilkes.
Martine Moïse, the former first lady of Haiti, said her heart “aches” after receiving the news of the earthquake, which caused enormous damage to the south of Grand’Anse.
“The initial information I received from Grand’Anse is heartbreaking,” said the first lady. “My heart aches for the children, the mothers, the elderly, the disabled, my friends and all the victims of this earthquake.”
“My brothers and sisters, we have to put our shoulders together to unite and show our solidarity. It is our union that constitutes our strength and endurance. Courage, I will always be by your side,” added Moïse.
Videos offer insight into destruction
Videos posted on social media offer a glimpse of the widespread destruction. One of Les Cayes shows a street littered with rubble and what was left of several buildings. Dust filled the air.
One man in a video said he was lucky the building he was in didn’t collapse, but many other houses in the area did.
“There are many injured in the street,” he said.
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 it left between 220,000 and 300,000 dead and hundreds of thousands more injured. That happened 13 kilometers deep.
An aftershock of magnitude 5.2 occurred shortly after this Saturday morning about 20 kilometers west-northwest of Cavaillon, Haiti, according to the USGS. This was followed by several more, including a 5.1 magnitude aftershock around noon.
A tsunami threat was issued for the region and was later removed, according to the US Tsunami Warning System.
Haiti is in the cone of uncertainty for Tropical Storm Grace and can expect tropical storm-force winds and heavy rains that could trigger flash floods Monday through Tuesday, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.
Heavy rains could cause localized flooding and landslides across the region, according to Brink.
A tropical storm watch for Haiti is likely to be issued later after one was issued for the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.
“We are concerned that this earthquake is yet another crisis the country is already facing, including the growing political stalemate after the assassination of the president, covid-19 and food insecurity,” said Jean-Wickens Merone, spokesman for World. Vision, in a statement.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on July 7.
Merone is located in Port-au-Prince, about 257 kilometers from Saint-Louis-du-Sud, and said the shaking there lasted “more than five to 10 seconds”, and both sides of his house were shaking.
The prime minister will assess the extent of the damage
Henry, the prime minister of Haiti, declared a state of emergency on Saturday night and arrived in Grand’Anse to assess the extent of the damage.
“I am currently in the Grand’Anse department to see the extent of the damage and better coordinate government actions on the ground,” Henry said in a Twitter post on Saturday.
“Resources have been mobilized since this morning to provide aid and assistance to the victims of this devastating earthquake,” he added.
Henry previously said that he mobilized the government to assess and help.
“After the earthquake that caused enormous damage in the south, Grand’Anse and Nippes, I have already mobilized the entire government team to adopt all the necessary measures, as a matter of urgency,” the tweet reads.
Henry urged Haitians to unite in solidarity.
“I offer my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of this violent earthquake that caused several losses of human life and property in various geographic departments of the country,” Henry tweeted.
“I call on the spirit of solidarity and commitment of all Haitians, in order to form a common front to face this dramatic situation that we are experiencing,” said another tweet.
Other countries offer support
In a statement Saturday, US President Joe Biden said he was “saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti, this morning.”
“We send our condolences to all those who lost a loved one or saw their homes and businesses destroyed,” the statement said. “I authorized an immediate US response and appointed USAID Administrator Samantha Power as the senior US official to coordinate this work.”
Power He said on Twitter on Saturday night that he authorized the deployment of a USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team in Haiti and is coordinating with the Haitian government to help the country.
“Initial assessments indicate widespread damage and destruction. The United States is urgently mobilizing to support the Haitian people,” wrote Power.
The Red Cross emergency response system has been activated and the organization is “identifying urgent needs on the ground,” Wilkes said.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is preparing to receive patients at the Tabarre Hospital in Port-au-Prince, said MSF communications adviser Tim Shenk.
Since June, armed gang violence has isolated some areas affected by the earthquake, making the aftermath a logistical challenge, Jacqueline Charles, Caribbean correspondent for the Miami Herald, told CNN.
“This is a country that doesn’t have access to helicopters, other than the ones the United Nations has. So logistically it’s a big challenge,” Charles told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield.
Several Latin American countries said they were preparing to support Haiti.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said on Twitter on Saturday that they have contacted Haitian authorities and are currently preparing to send humanitarian aid. The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also said on Twitter that he ordered the National Coordination of Civil Protection and other ministries such as Foreign Affairs, Navy and Defense to prepare aid “immediately.”
The Foreign Ministry of Panama announced that it was preparing to send humanitarian aid soon and in the Dominican Republic, President Luis Abinader said that he instructed the Foreign Minister to call the Haitian counterpart to “facilitate any aid within our possibilities.”
Colombian President Iván Duque reported that the Air Force will deploy to Haiti on Sunday with a specialized search and rescue team.
“There will be 18 tons of equipment to fulfill its mission: save lives,” he said in a Tweet of Saturday.
Other countries, including Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela, also expressed support for Haiti.
CNN’s Theresa Waldrop, Florencia Trucco, Caitlin Hu, and Michelle Velez contributed to this report.