Port-de-Paix, Gros-Morne, the town of Chansolme and the northern island of Tortuga were among the areas worst hit, Haiti's civil protection agency said in a statement.
The epicenter of the quake was located about 19 kilometres northwest of the city of Port-de-Paix, the US Geological Survey reported.
This is Haiti's biggest quake since the 7.3 magnitude natural disaster struck near the capital, Port-au-Prince, in 2010 that killed over 230,000 of people and cost the already impoverished nation US$7.8 billion to $8.5 billion in damage.
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.
President Jovenel Moise said he would send additional police and military to the region, promising to assist the families of victims.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Emergency teams worked to provide relief in Haiti today after a magnitude 5.9 quake killed 12 people and left 188 injured. The full extent of the damage was not clear though in parts of Port-de-Paix residents tried to go about their business normally on Sunday.
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As the quake rattled Haiti, people were seen running out on streets from homes as several buildings and households are reported to have been damaged.
The civil protection agency officially confirmed the deaths of at least 10 people.
There was an unusual buzz of activity, however, at the site in Gros-Morne where a community center had collapsed.
Impoverished Haiti, where many live in tenuous circumstances, is vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes.
The damage caused was worth an estimated 120 percent of GDP in Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere.