An earthquake has killed at least four people and injured 36 others in western Haiti, Civil Protection said Tuesday, as the western hemisphere’s poorest state was already reeling from deadly floods and landslides.

In the city of Jérémy, many houses showed cracks, an AFP photojournalist found, while some were apparently built in violation of the urban planning regulation.

“I don’t know what to do,” said Katiana Pierre, 19, who lost her husband and little sister in the disaster.

Three of the victims “were members of the same family,” killed “due to the collapse of their home,” said Christine Montquele, a Civil Protection official in Grandance County.

The earthquake, measuring 4.9 according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), occurred shortly after 05:00 [τοπική ώρα· 12:00 ώρα Ελλάδας] yesterday, about 9km off the coast in the southwestern peninsula of the Caribbean country, which has been hit repeatedly by devastating earthquakes.

“We offered first aid to victims. Some injured were airlifted to the capital by helicopters. We have at least one patient in critical condition in an intensive care unit,” said Soitmil Loreis, an intensivist at the St. Antoine public hospital, adding that he expected more injured to arrive from distant locations.

Searches were underway yesterday to locate and rescue people trapped under the debris. “Efforts are continuing to find survivors,” said the Haitian Red Cross.

Most of the victims lived in St. Helen, a poor neighborhood of Jeremy.

“In the early morning, I was awakened by the deafening banging. My wife (…) begged me to go and look for the children in their room. With the help of neighbors, I was able to save our two children, but unfortunately my wife is dead. Our house was completely destroyed. I lost everything,” said the 40-year-old in a hospital bed, whose testimony is contained in a video uploaded to the Haitian news website JCOM Haïti.

“We are saddened by the loss of human life, the disasters, the suffering suffered by the Haitian population from the earthquake,” commented Stephane Dujarric, the representative of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York.

Haiti’s southwestern peninsula had already suffered major devastation in August 2021 from the powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people and destroyed at least 130,000 homes and other buildings.

In 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake killed over 200,000 people in the country. That tremor reduced much of the capital Port-au-Prince to rubble and left 1.5 million citizens homeless.

Over the weekend, Haiti was hit by heavy rains that caused flooding and landslides that left 51 dead, 18 missing and 140 injured, according to the latest toll released by authorities and cited by the UN yesterday.

Mr. Dujarric said the World Food Program is preparing to distribute 350,000 meals and other aid, especially nutritional, to “those who need it most.”

But “insecurity and damage to roads is hampering relief efforts,” he added, as gang violence continues to fester in the Caribbean nation.