The death toll from a 5.9 earthquake that hit Haiti over the weekend has risen to at least 15 with 333 injured, according to updated figures, as rescue crews work to help victims spooked by strong aftershocks.

Haiti’s civil protection agency said it will soon deploy 70 soldiers to the Nord-Ouest and Artibonite provinces that were hardest hit, noting it had already sent 14 soldiers along with nurses and doctors to the area over the weekend.

Thousands of people along Haiti’s north coast have dragged mattresses and chairs outside, fearing new aftershocks.

Many wondered how they were going to rebuild from Saturday night’s quake and a strong 5.2 magnitude aftershock on Sunday that had residents in the coastal city of Port-de-Paix and elsewhere worried about returning to their cracked cinderblock homes for fear they would collapse.

A collapsed school in Gros Morne
A collapsed school in Gros Morne (Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

Sunday’s aftershock caused panic on streets where emergency teams were providing relief to victims after homes and rickety buildings toppled in several cities.

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the aftershock was 9.8 miles north-north-west of Port-de-Paix.

Among the dead were a five-year-old boy crushed by his collapsing house.

Impoverished Haiti, where many live in desperate circumstances, is vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes. A magnitude 7.1 quake damaged much of the capital in 2010 and killed about 300,000 people.

President Jovenel Moise urged people to donate blood and asked international aid agencies to co-ordinate with local agencies to avoid duplicated efforts. The government did not provide an estimate of the damages.

The USGS said Saturday’s quake was centered 12 miles north-west of Port-de-Paix, which is about 136 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince.

It was felt lightly in the capital, as well as in the neighbouring Dominican Republic and in eastern Cuba, where no damage was reported.

In Haiti, officials have struggled to shore up buildings despite the two major fault lines along Hispaniola, which is the island shared with the Dominican Republic.