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At least 11 dead as quake topples homes in northern Haiti

An earthquake that struck off the northern coast of Haiti late on Saturday killed at least 11 people and injured more than a hundred when several buildings collapsed in the impoverished Caribbean country, officials said.

The magnitude 5.9 quake was centered about 12 miles (20 kms) west-northwest of the coastal town of Port-de-Paix, at a depth of 11.7 km, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The police chief for the northwest region, Jackson Hilaire, said at least seven people were killed and more than 100 injured in Port-de-Paix.

Another four people died in and around the town of Gros-Morne further south, including a boy struck by a falling building, said mayor Jean Renel Tide.

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

In a post on Twitter, President Jovenel Moise urged people to remain calm after the civil protection agency reported the latest quake had caused outbreaks of panic in northern towns.

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

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

The tremor also damaged the facade of a church in the town of Plaisance and a house next door collapsed, the paper said.

Saturday’s quake was felt in Port-au-Prince but initial reports on Twitter said it had not caused major damage there.

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