Haiti earthquake: Satellite photos reveal devastation as death toll rises

Credit: Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies

Satellite images have captured the destruction and impact from the deadly 7.2 magnitude earthquake which struck Haiti on Saturday.

It comes as medical teams and rescue workers are racing to save lives from the powerful earthquake which has forced overwhelmed hospitals to act quickly.

Since the weekend, a tropical storm has also hit the Caribbean nation as the Tropical Depression Grace swept over Haiti with drenching rains.

The storm arrived on the same day the country’s Civil Protection Agency raised the death toll from the earthquake to 1,419 and the number of those injured to 6,000.

The death toll from the earthquake has risen to 1,419 and the number of injured has increased to 6,000. Credit: Maxar

Heavy rain and strong winds whipped at the country’s southwestern area which was already hit hardest by Saturday’s quake.

Officials also warned that rainfall could reach 15 inches in some areas before the storm moved on. Port-au-Prince, the capital, also saw heavy rains.

"We need to get prepared. It’s going to bring a lot of flooding … and it’s going to hamper rescue efforts," warned Jean William Pape, a Haitian doctor who is involved in the earthquake response.

The quake nearly wrecked some towns in the southwest in the latest disaster to befall the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation.

The earthquake marks another difficult development in Haiti as it struggles with violence amid the pandemic Credit: AP

Haitians were already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, gang violence, worsening poverty and the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

"We are in an exceptional situation," Prime Minister Ariel Henry told reporters Monday afternoon as the storm approached.

A hospital in the badly damaged town of Les Cayes was so crowded with patients after the earthquake that many had to lie in patios, corridors, verandas and hallways, but the approaching storm had officials scrambling to relocate them as best they could.

People walk past a home destroyed by the earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti Credit: Joseph Odelyn/AP

"We had planned to put up tents (in hospital patios), but we were told that could not be safe," said Gede Peterson, director of Les Cayes General Hospital.

It is not the first time the hospital has been forced to improvise. The refrigeration in the hospital’s morgue has not worked for three months, but after the earthquake struck on Saturday, staff had to store as many as 20 bodies in the small space.

Relatives quickly came to take most of their loved ones to private embalming services or immediate burial. By Monday, only three bodies were in the morgue.

The reports of overwhelmed hospitals come as Haiti struggles with the pandemic Credit: Delot Jean/AP

"We are working now to ensure that the resources we have are going to get to the places that are hardest hit," said Civil Protection Agency head Jerry Chandler, referring to the hard-hit towns of Les Cayes and Jeremie and the department of Nippes.

Dr Paurus Michelete, who had treated 250 patients and was one of only three doctors on call when the quake hit, explains why it has been difficult to treat patients.

He said: "After two days, they are almost always generally infected."

He added that pain killers, analgesics and steel pins to mend fractures were running out amid the crush of patients.