People in the capital of Port-au-Prince felt the tremor as the quake struck nearly 100 miles away on Saturday and many rushed into the streets in fear.

Haiti earthquake: Death toll rises to 304 and state of emergency declared following 7.2-magnitude earthquake in western Haiti

Haiti earthquake: Death toll rises to 304 and state of emergency declared following 7.2-magnitude earthquake in western Haiti

At least 304 people have died following a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in western Haiti, officials have said, as the prime minister declared a one-month state of emergency.

The quake struck 8km (five miles) from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, about 150km (93 miles) west of the capital Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 10km, the US Geological Survey said.

Haitian authorities say at least 1,800 people have been injured.

People fled their homes fearing they might collapse as churches, hotels and other buildings were reduced to rubble.

The United States Geological Survey issued a red alert for fatalities from the quake and said the disaster is “likely widespread”.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said the quake caused “enormous damage” to southern areas of the Caribbean country.Some towns have been “completely razed”, he said.

The government is rushing aid to areas where towns were destroyed and hospitals overwhelmed with incoming patients.

Mr Henry said: “The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble.

“We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.”

The Caribbean country is still recovering from a magnitude 7 earthquake closer to the capital 11 years ago that killed tens of thousands of people and flattened buildings, leaving many homeless.

Among those killed was Gabriel Fortune, a former mayor of Les Cayes. He died along with several others when his hotel collapsed, local media reported.

“In my neighbourhood, I heard people screaming. They were flying outside,” said Port-au-Prince resident Sephora Pierre Louis, adding she was still in a state of shock.

“At least they know to go outside. In 2010, they didn’t know what to do. People are still outside in the street.”

Naomi Verneus, a 34-year-old resident, said she was jolted awake by the earthquake, and her bed was shaking.

“I woke up and didn’t have time to put my shoes on. We lived the 2010 earthquake and all I could do was run. I later remembered my two kids and my mother were still inside.

“My neighbour went in and told them to get out. We ran to the street,” Ms Verneus said.

The US president has authorised an immediate response, while a growing number of countries, including Argentina and Chile are preparing to send humanitarian aid.

In a statement, Joe Biden said: “In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti this morning.

“We send our deepest condolences to all those who lost a loved one or saw their homes and businesses destroyed.”

Tropical Storm Grace is forecast to reach Haiti late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

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