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'We Only Have Jesus Now': Death Toll From Earthquake in Haiti Rises to 1,297 as Rescuers Search for Survivors

People gather outside the Petit Pas Hotel, destroyed by the earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)
People gather outside the Petit Pas Hotel, destroyed by the earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

The death toll has climbed to 1,297 after a powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Haiti Saturday, injuring at least 2,800 people.

Rescuers continue to sort through the rubble in an effort to find survivors

Churches, schools, and houses were leveled by the quake. Multiple hospitals are inundated when patients and in need of supplies.

The epicenter of the quake was about 125 kilometers (78 miles) west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Families in the devastated town of Les Cayes shifted through debris while looking for any salvageable belongings. Residents arrived at the local market early on Sunday to buy the few items that were available such as bananas, avocados and water.

Some thank God for protecting them during the earthquake while others went to the city's church to pray.

"We only have Jesus now," said Johanne Dorcely, 58, whose house was destroyed. "If it wasn't for Jesus, I wouldn't be able to be here today."

Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared a state of emergency for one month for the entire country.

"The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble," said Henry. "We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people."

President Joe Biden said an "immediate US response" was authorized to help Haith through USAID which will assess the damage and assist in rebuilding.

Biden called the United States a "close and enduring friend to the people of Haiti." The United Nations also said it was supporting the rescue effort.

Argentina and Chile also were among the other nations that vowed to send help.

The Christian humanitarian group Samaritan's Purse, which is led by Franklin Graham, is airlifting disaster response team members and emergency relief supplies to the area. That includes shelter materials and water filtration units. 

The Pope offered prayers for the victims during a Sunday address and expressed hope for recovery efforts.

"May the solidarity of all alleviate the consequences of the tragedy!" he shared along with encouragement to the survivors.

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