Haiti's earthquake aftermath is visible from space

Haiti earthquake
A collapsed hotel (center) lies among devastated buildings after an earthquake in Haiti August 14, 2021. Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies (Image credit: Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies)

A deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti Saturday (Aug. 14) pancaked buildings so badly that the damage was visible from orbit.

Maxar Technologies satellite imagery showed the earthquake devastation in two of the hardest-hit cities in Haiti: Les Cayes in southwest Haiti and Jérémie in northwest Haiti.

"Multiple buildings can be seen in ruins, particularly in Les Cayes, while recovery crews work near the rubble of the collapsed structures," Maxar officials wrote in a description of the imagery.

Related: GPS satellites can provide faster alerts when big earthquakes strike, scientists say

The death toll in western Haiti alone is estimated at at least 1,300 people, according to The New York Times. The country was already facing a severe shortage of doctors even before the quake, the Times added; the region of Les Cayes had only a few dozen doctors to serve more than a million people, for example.

As of Monday (Aug. 16), Haiti is also being battered by Tropical Storm Grace. The storm and earthquake are the latest calamities for the country, whose president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated July 7 amid massive political and civil instability. Even before the earthquake struck, local media said planned elections were postponed until Nov. 7, according to Reuters.

Haiti, which the Associated Press (AP) describes as "the hemisphere's poorest nation," is also still dealing with the coronavirus and weakened infrastructure, the latter caused by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the region in 2010.

"Saturday’s earthquake ... left at least 5,700 people injured in the Caribbean nation, with thousands more displaced from their destroyed or damaged homes," AP wrote. "Survivors in some areas were forced to wait out in the open amid oppressive heat for help from overloaded hospitals."

Organizations ranging from UNICEF to the New York Police Department are accepting donations to assist Haiti. CNNWire has a list of donating opportunities available.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace