At Least 30 Dead In Haiti School Collapse

By: AP
By: AP

(AP) A Haitian civil protection official says at least 30 people have been killed in the collapse of a school outside the capital of the impoverished nation.

Yphosiane Vil says the toll could rise as rescuers continue to search for survivors and the dead amid the rubble.

The three-story concrete building in the hills above Port-au-Prince collapsed late Friday morning.

Officials say roughly 500 students from kindergarten on up attended the La Promesse school in Petionville but it is unclear how many were inside the building at the time.

The aid group Doctors Without Borders says it has taken 85 injured adults and children from the school, half of them with life-threatening injuries.

More children were believed buried in the rubble and rescuers used bare hands and hand tools to get to them.

An Associated Press reporter saw the bodies of five children and two women, as well as dozens of injured students, some with bleeding heads, pulled from the collapsed building.

Matt Marek, head of programs for the American Red Cross in Haiti, said he thought the death toll will go much higher.

"This is going to be an all-day affair," he said.

As rescuers carried the injured from the rubble of the concrete building, a swelling crowd erupted with wails and prayers.

"My child, my child," one mother yelled.

"There are no words for this," the mayor said as the hundreds of bystanders and rescue workers searched for survivors.

United Nations peacekeepers and Haitian police tried to clear a path through the onlookers so that three battalions of military engineers from Brazil, Chile and Ecuador could assist in the rescue.

U.N. military commander Maj. Gen. Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz said he had to park a kilometer (about a half-mile) away and walk to the wrecked school because he couldn't get by the crowd.

Parent said she suspected a structural defect caused the second story of the La Promesse school to collapse onto the first. The mayor said she doubted recent rains contributed to the collapse.

Volunteers arrived with shovels and axes and said they were going to try to deliver water to anybody who was trapped under the rubble. Other people shouted prayers as emergency vehicles raced up a winding hill to the school.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has been struggling to recover from a chaotic year that has included widespread riots over rising food prices and a string of hurricanes and tropical storms that killed nearly 800 people.

The U.N. peacekeepers were sent to Haiti following the bloody ouster of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and have boosted security by fighting gangs and helping develop local police.

© MMVIII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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