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'Haiti now is a country of tragedy.' Miami expat looks for a friend missing in the Cap-Haïtien blast

 A health worker at the Justinien hospital in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, attends to a victim of Monday night's fuel truck explosion
Joseph Odelyn
A health worker at the Justinien hospital in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, attends to a victim of Monday night's fuel truck explosion.

Because "gas is like gold" in economically collapsed Haiti today, scores of victims ran toward an upended gasoline truck to get its spilled fuel. Then it exploded.

The death toll from Monday night’s fiery explosion in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, is more than 60.

One Haitian expat from Miami who’s in the country, told WLRN Tuesday afternoon he was searching for a friend who’s missing in the disaster — and that the wife of another friend was killed.

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The explosion happened around midnight, after a gasoline tanker truck flipped over in the Samari district of Cap-Haïtien, a port city on Haiti’s north coast. So many people were killed because, instead of staying away from the accident, many ran to the truck to gather its spilled fuel, which is scarce in Haiti.

Daniel Eugene, a Haitian-American nurse in Miami who was born in Cap-Haïtien, is there this week visiting family. When WLRN spoke with Eugene he was in his car trying to find a friend whom he saw shortly before the explosion — and whose home is very near the accident site.

“We don’t know his whereabouts right now," said Eugene said. "We are all trying to locate him, but he doesn’t answer his phone. And people are mourning all around us because Haiti right now is a country of tragedy. You know … it’s sad.”

fuel tanker explosion in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, kills hundred people and many more injuries...

Eugene, who is also Florida director for the Haitian-American Diaspora Council, said another friend’s wife was killed in the explosion.

This is just the latest calamity to hit Haiti in recent months — including the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a major earthquake in August. Meanwhile, street gangs have taken over much of Haiti — and have hijacked much of its gasoline, adding to the country’s economic implosion.

“That caused a black market," said Eugene. "Gas is like gold in Haiti. And the government isn’t strong enough to prevent these things from happening.”

Dozens were seriously injured in the blast, many with life-threatening burns. Eugene said after searching for his friend, who is a high school teacher, he would go to one of Cap-Haïtien’s overwhelmed hospitals to offer nursing assistance.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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