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Naomi Osaka has pledged to donate her prize money from this week's Western and Southern Open to a disaster appeal in Haiti after the island nation was struck by a devastating earthquake.
Haiti was rocked when a 7.2-magnitude quake, which was followed by a series of aftershocks, struck 8km from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, about 150 km west of the capital Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 10 km, the United States Geological Survey said.
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That made the temblor which was felt as far away as Cuba and Jamaica potentially more severe than the magnitude 7 earthquake 11 years ago that killed tens of thousands on the island.
More than 1297 people have reportedly died in the devastating natural disaster which occurred around 8:30 am local time.
In Port-au-Prince, it was strongly felt but did not appear to have caused major damage, according to Reuters witnesses.
Following the horror news, Osaka, whose father is Haitian, pledged her winnings to a disaster appeal to help those affected by the earthquake.
"Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break," she wrote.
"I’m about to play a tournament this week and I’ll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti. I know our ancestors blood is strong we’ll keep rising."
Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break. I’m about to play a tournament this week and I’ll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti. I know our ancestors blood is strong we’ll keep rising 🇭🇹❤️🙏🏾
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) August 14, 2021
Osaka pulled out of the National Bank Open hard-court event in Montreal the week before, but appears set to take part in the Cincinnati Open.
Osaka finished second in the Southern & Western Open last year after withdrawing from the final with a hamstring injury.
Haiti fighting earthquake disaster as storm approaches
Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who flew over the region to survey the damage, declared a month-long state of emergency.
The nearest big town was Les Cayes, where many buildings collapsed or suffered major damage, authorities said.
"I saw bodies being pulled out of the rubble, injured and perhaps dead people," said Les Cayes resident Jean Marie Simon, 38, who was at the market when the earthquake struck and ran home to see if his family was safe.
"I heard cries of pain everywhere I passed through."
His wife and two-year-old child had been bathing and rushed out to the street, naked, just before the front of the house crumbled. Simon gave his wife his shirt and they took refuge in the courtyard of a church with other locals. His mother's house had also collapsed.
"There are a lot of aftershocks and every time there's one, people run and shout," he said. "My legs are still trembling."
Videos posted to social media showed citizens pulling others from debris and crowds of people waiting for medical attention at overwhelmed hospitals.
USGS said a significant amount of the population was at risk of landslides, with road obstructions likely. Haiti's Civil Protection service said a landslide had blocked the highway between Les Cayes and the town of Jeremie.
Likely to complicate relief efforts is the fact Haiti is now in the probable track of Tropical Storm Grace, which could bring heavy rains and winds early next week.
Also, access by road to the southern region, where the quake struck, has been restricted by gang control of key areas although Henry said police would accompany any convoys going to the south.
The earthquake comes just over a month after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, who had been ruling by decree, which deepened the country's political turmoil.
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