Powerful Earthquake Strikes Haiti

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday morning, seismologists said, hitting the impoverished Caribbean country that is still recovering from a disastrous quake more than 11 years ago. Heavy damage was reported in at least two cities.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck five miles from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes in the western part of the country, about 80 miles west of Port-au-Prince. Seismologists said it had a depth of seven miles. It was felt as far away as Jamaica, 200 miles away.

The quake could hardly have come at a worse time for the nation of 11 million, which has been in the throes of a political crisis since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on July 7.

The U.S.G.S. said it was a magnitude 7.2 quake.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities, but pictures and video posted on social media showed collapsed structures in the aftermath of the quake.

At least two cities reported major devastation: Les Cayes and Jeremie. Phone lines were down in Petit Trou de Nippes, the epicenter of the quake, and no news emerged immediately from that city, leaving Haitian officials to fear for the worst.

“Many houses fell, many people are trapped under the rubble,” said Widchell Augustin, 35, said from Les Cayes, where he lives. “We can hear people screaming under the rubble. People are running back-and-forth to the hospital.”

Haiti’s southern peninsula, the site of the quake, was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and, five years later, has still not fully recovered. Remnants of the devastationstill linger, with Haiti’s broke government unable to fully restore all the houses, roads and government buildings destroyed.

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The devastating magnitude 7.0 quake in 2010 killed more than 220,000 people and leveled much of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center reported a tsunami threat because of Saturday’s earthquake, saying that “tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts.”

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