Violent M7.2 earthquake hits Haiti, causing widespread damage and leaving thousands dead and injured


A violent earthquake registered by the USGS as M7.2 hit Haiti at 12:29 UTC on August 14, 2021. The agency is reporting a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). EMSC is reporting the same magnitude and depth.

  • This is the 4th M7+ earthquake in the world since August 11 (M7.1 Philippines, M7.5 South Sandwich Islands, M8.1 South Sandwich Islands).
  • The epicenter was located about 75 km (46 miles) W of the M7.0 January 12, 2010 earthquake that caused major damage to the capital Port-au-Prince and left between 160 000 and 316 000 people dead.
  • Haitian Civil Protection Agency (DPC) confirmed 1 297 fatalities at 22:52 UTC on August 15.
  • The death toll is expected to continue rising.

The epicenter was located 13.5 km (8.4 miles) SSE of Petit Trou de Nippes (population 2 130), 37.3 km (23.2 miles) NE of Les Cayes (population 125 799), 40.9 km (25.4 miles) W of Mirogoane (population 89 202), 64.5 km (40.1 miles) W of Tigwav (population 117 504) and 72.8 km (45.3 miles) ESE of Jeremie (population 97 503) and about 125 km (77 miles) W of capital Port-au-Prince (population 987 310).

6 000 people are estimated to have felt violent shaking, 590 000 severe, 518 000 very strong, 791 000 strong, and 4 353 000 moderate.

The USGS issued a Red alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses — high casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Past red alerts have required a national or international response.

Estimated economic losses are 6 – 60% GDP of Haiti.

Credit: TW/SAM, Google

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are mud wall and informal (metal, timber, GI, etc.) construction.

Landslide population exposure is estimated to be significant.

A small tsunami wave (up to 2 cm / 0.1 feet) was observed in the capital city.

The first interventions, carried out by both professional rescuers and members of the population, made it possible to extract many people from the rubble, DPC said. 

Hospitals continue to receive wounded.

National Road #7, connecting Les Cayes and Jérémie, is cut off near the Glace River due to a landslide caused by the earthquake. An operation is underway to restore the traffic, DPC said.

12 moderate to strong aftershocks were registered by 18:11 UTC.

The Haitian Civil Protection Agency (DPC) confirmed 2 189 fatalities and 12 268 others injured at 02:19 UTC on August 19.

1 832 people were killed in the South, 218 in Grand'Anse, 137 in Nippes, and 2 in the North-West.

12 268 people were injured — 9 158 in the South, 1 652 in Grand'Anse, and 1 458 in Nippes.

332 are still missing.

At least 129 959 homes were damaged or destroyed. 30 122 destroyed and 42 737 damaged in the South department, 14 348 destroyed and 14 898 damaged in Nippes, and 8 483 destroyed and 19 371 damaged in Grand'Anse.

Search and rescue operations are still in progress and the death toll is expected to continue rising.

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Selected cities exposed

Regional seismicity


Featured image credit: TW/SAM, Google

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