Haiti earthquake: Death toll passes 2,200 as search for survivors continues

22 August 2021, 19:15

A total of 2,207 people are confirmed to have died in Haiti following last week's earthquake
A total of 2,207 people are confirmed to have died in Haiti following last week's earthquake. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The death toll from Haiti's devastating earthquake earlier this month has grown to 2,207, with 344 people still missing, the authorities have said.

The previous figure, released on Wednesday, had been 2,189, while the country's Civil Protection Agency said via Twitter that 12,268 people had been injured and nearly 53,000 houses had been destroyed by the August 14 quake.

The new toll comes at a time when relief operations are expanding - the US-based aid agency Samaritan's Purse opened a field hospital on Saturday - but authorities are struggling with security at distribution points. Gangs have hijacked aid trucks and desperate crowds have scuffled over bags of food.

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Meanwhile, the damage wrought to buildings by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake has meant some people in the hard-hit city of Les Cayes attended outdoor church services on Sunday.

The quake was centred on the impoverished nation's southwestern peninsula.

Rob Davis, a British former firefighter leading a rescue team in Haiti, has said he is hopeful they will still find survivors a week after the quake.

The 50-year-old from Bath, Somerset, is co-ordinating a group of structural engineers from charity Search and Rescue Assistance in Disaster (SARAID) to assess hospitals and schools in three cities torn apart by the quake.

He said his crew of former firefighters, paramedics and engineers will be examining buildings in Miragoane, Les Cayes and Jeremie to check whether they are safe to use and for anyone trapped inside.

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"The figures of the affected and the injured people are quite horrendous," said Mr Davis ahead of his journey from the unscathed capital, Port-au-Prince, to the affected region on the west of the island on Saturday.

"I know the area well and the beautiful people of Haiti. Obviously there's trepidation about what we're going to see.

"But we train our people well, they're prepared for this type of thing, and we just want to get on and get into the affected areas now."

When asked whether he expects to find survivors, he said: "There's always hope and there's always a chance.

"There's statistical evidence around the world of people being pulled out of earthquakes some days after."

He said that although the "window of survivability" decreases with time, there was still a chance depending on the "condition" of the casualties.

"If they're not traumatically injured and they have access to water, there could still be people needing rescue," he said.