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Taiwan 'stands ready to assist' ally Haiti after magnitude 7.2 quake kills hundreds

Earthquake wrought havoc in south, southwest Haiti Saturday morning, over 300 reported dead

Petit Pas Hotel, destroyed by the earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. 

Petit Pas Hotel, destroyed by the earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwanese government has offered condolences to Haiti following Saturday's (Aug. 14) devastating earthquake, which killed at least 300, promising to stay in contact with the Caribbean ally as it mounts search and rescue operations and takes stock of the situation.

The temblor struck at 8:29 a.m. 125 kilometers west of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince at a depth of 10 km, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The death toll has reached 304, with the greatest numbers recorded in the Sud (South) and Grand'Anse departments with 160 and 100, respectively. At least 1,800 were injured, according to the country's civil protection agency.

While the capital was spared significant damage, a large number of buildings in the southwest coastal city of Les Cayes were damaged or destroyed and hospitals flooded with the injured, per AP. Haitian Acting President Ariel Henry has announced a month-long state of emergency.

Haitian Ambassador to Taiwan Roudy Stanley Penn pointed out in a tweet that this is the second time in five years a major natural disaster has hit the southern portion of the Caribbean nation, with Hurricane Matthew estimated to have wrought US$1.9 billion in damage in late 2016.

In response to the crisis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) published a statement saying the Taiwanese government and people "extend their deepest condolences to Haiti" and pledging to "keep liaising with [Haiti's ambassador] & monitoring the situation closely." Meanwhile, the Taiwanese embassy in the country said it's in contact with the Haitian authorities as they review the need for humanitarian aid.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) wrote on Twitter Sunday morning that she is "devastated by the news," adding that "Taiwan stands ready to assist Haiti in rescue & recovery efforts."

The timing of the earthquake was particularly unfortunate, as Haiti continues to grapple with the impact of previous natural disasters, COVID-19, and political instability exacerbated by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last month.