The 7.2-magnitude quake hit the west of the country on Saturday morning, toppling and damaging buildings including churches and hotels. The prime minister said there was “extensive damage” and declared a month-long state of emergency.
Haiti is still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake.
The epicentre of Saturday’s quake was about 12km (7.5 miles) from the town of Saint-Louis du Sud, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.The tremor was felt in the densely-populated capital of Port-au-Prince, some 125km away, and in neighbouring countries.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he had mobilised a team to work on the relief effort.
“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” he said. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.”
Mr Henry later revealed he had flown in a plane over the city of Cayes.