Deadly natural disaster hits Haiti

A woman stretches out her arms in prayer as balances a stone on her head as a form of penance during a Good Friday ritual in Ganthier Haiti

A woman stretches out her arms in prayer as balances a stone on her head as a form of penance during a Good Friday ritual in Ganthier Haiti

At least six people are reported to have died after a 5.9 magnitude quake hit Caribbean neighbours Haiti on Saturday evening. It was 7.3 miles (11.7 kilometres) below the surface.

Government spokesman Eddy Jackson Alexis told AFP that 11 people were so far reported dead, seven of them in Port-de-Paix, the capital of Haiti's Nord-Ouest department.

The agency said Port-de-Paix, Gros-Morne, the town of Chansolme and the island of Tortuga suffered some of the worst damage and some houses were destroyed.

Le Nouvelliste newspaper said one person died when an auditorium collapsed in Gros Morne, and that detainees were released from a police holding cell that was damaged.

Officials reported that people had been injured, but had not confirmed local media reports of deaths.

He urged residents to remain calm and said civil protection workers are on alert.

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Prime Minister Jean-Henry Ceant is heading up an inter-ministerial disaster response task force, he said on Twitter.

The country's civil protection agency said on its Twitter account that there were reports of damage and injuries, but gave no immediate details.

The tremor was one of the strongest to hit Haiti since a 7.0 magnitude quake struck near the Port-au-Prince in 2010, killing tens of thousands of people.

Impoverished Haiti, where many live in tenuous circumstances, is especially vulnerable to earthquakes.

Longer-term reconstruction has been hampered by lingering political chaos in the nation of almost 11 million people, and by a deadly cholera epidemic introduced by infected Nepalese UN peacekeepers sent in after the quake.

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