Church Destroyed, Many Killed In Haiti Quake

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) - As the death toll of Haiti’s devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake rose to more than 1,400, Christians were among those mourning victims.

Its bell tower and yellow walls are a sharp contrast with Haiti's blue tropical sky, the historic Immaculee Conception church was the pride of Les Anglais. But it was destroyed by the earthquake hitting the town Saturday, burying several faithful insides.

At least 17 people were crushed to death by the collapsing wall and roof, local believers told a reporter of French News Agency AFP.

"I had just finished celebrating the 6:30 am morning mass and had entered the presbytery to have coffee before returning to celebrate baptisms" when the quake struck, said parish priest Wilson Exantus Andre.

"The oldest of the deceased was 24 years old. What is hard is that a woman who has only two children, 18 years old and three years old, lost them both," the priest, still in shock, added.

The bodies of all of the victims were pulled out of the ruins of the church. “It was a beautiful church with very beautiful architecture," stressed the priest. "It was part of the national heritage, it was the pride of the people of Les Anglais, who never missed an opportunity to talk about it."

But in just a few seconds, the church, built in 1907, was destroyed. Two people trapped under the rubble were rescued with help from heavy equipment rushed in by workers with a Taiwanese construction company that happened to be working nearby, the priest said.

Injured survivors were taken to a hospital in the nearby town of Port-a-Piment. Stunned residents spoke of relatives killed during the disaster. Nearby a lone child's shoe, black in color but now covered in white dust, lay in the church square, AFP noted.

It is just one of several churches facing severe damage due to the earthquake, which killed at least 1,419 people and injured more than 6,900, the country’s civil protection agency said late Monday.

There was not much time to find and help survivors of the Saturday tremor, as the Caribbean nation braved for heavy rain and wind from Tropical Depression Grace.

Aid is also moving in slowly amid concerns about violent gangs who kidnapped church leaders this year, often for ransom. Haiti has also been coping with food shortages, widespread violence, and political chaos following the assassination of the country’s President Jovenel Moise last month.

Facing complaints, Prime Minister Ariel Henry pledged that his government would “act with greater speed” to aid “the maximum number of victims possible.”

On Monday afternoon, he reportedly called an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the crisis and define “priorities.”