Residents look on as workers receive humanitarian aid from a US helicopter at Les Cayes airport after Saturday’s magnitude 7.2 earthquake [Henry Romero/Reuters]

Authorities say at least 600,000 people are in need of assistance following the earthquake in the country’s south.

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake that has killed more than 2,000 people has left Haiti “on its knees”, Prime Minister Ariel Henry said, as survivors showed increasing frustration about the sluggish arrival of relief in hard-hit areas.

Henry has promised a rapid increase in aid. But in a video address on Wednesday evening, he conceded that the Caribbean nation was in trouble.

“Haiti is now on its knees,” Henry said. “The earthquake that devastated a large part of the south of the country proves once again our limits, and how fragile we are.”

Dozens of people went to Les Cayes airport demanding food after a helicopter arrived carrying supplies, a witness told the Reuters news agency. Police intervened to allow a truck carrying aid to leave.

Following another night of rains, residents in Les Cayes, including those camped in a mushrooming community of tents in the city centre, complained of scant assistance.

Haitian authorities said late on Wednesday that the official death toll had risen to 2,189.

Concern was also growing for more remote places outside Les Cayes such as Jeremie to the northwest, where access roads were damaged, videos on social media showed.

Pierre Cenel, a judge in Les Cayes, rebuked the government in Port-au-Prince.

“As a judge, I must not have a political opinion. But as a man, as a man concerned about the situation of my country, nothing is working. They didn’t do anything to prepare for this disaster,” Cenel said.

The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti is still recovering from a 2010 quake that killed more than 200,000 people. The latest disaster hit just weeks after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7, plunging Haiti into political turmoil.

Jerry Chandler, the head of Haiti’s civil protection agency, told a news conference he knew aid had yet to reach many areas but officials were working hard to deliver it.

“The frustration and despair of the population is understood, but … the population is asked not to block the convoys so that civil protection can do its job,” he said.

There were at least 600,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance and 135,000 families displaced, Chandler said. The goal was to deliver aid to everyone in need within a week.

Source: Aljazeera

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