School With 700 Students In Haiti Collapses

A church school collapsed on the outskirts of Haiti’s capital on Friday, killing at least 30 people and burying dozens under rubble, rescue workers said.
The three-story La Promesse school building collapsed while class was in session and some of the walls and debris crushed neighboring residences in the Nerettes community near Port-au-Prince.
“Thirty have already been killed and there are many others under the debris,” said Philippine Army Maj. Donald Hongitan, who was among U.N. peacekeeping troops working with police to rescue survivors.

At the scene, crying and screaming parents searched desperately for their children while bodies of students lay crushed under blocks of concrete.

“It’s like an earthquake,” said Brazilian Maj. Gen. Carlos dos Santos Cruz, the commander for U.N. troops in Haiti.

One boy was trapped by debris that pinned his legs beneath the rubble. He begged the rescuers to “please cut my feet off,” a firefighter told Reuters.

Police commissioner Carl Henry Boucher said more than 25 people had been hospitalized in very serious condition.

The roads around the school were so jammed with people looking for loved ones that some of the rescuers had to be brought in by helicopter.

“My son who is 15 years old, he’s dead. He’s my only son,” sobbed 40-year-old Josiane Dandin. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Another woman screamed for her missing 12-year-old daughter. “I don’t know if she is dead or alive,” she said.

More than 9,000 multinational troops and police currently make up a U.N. peacekeeping force sent to stabilize Haiti after its former president was driven out in a bloody rebellion in 2004.

The impoverished Caribbean nation lacks sophisticated rescue equipment. Haiti is still struggling with the destruction wrought by four tropical storms and hurricanes that hit in quick succession this year, killing more than 800 people and destroying 60 percent of the crop harvest.

“We don’t have a number … but it could be very high,” CNN quoted Haitian Red Cross President Michaele Gedeon as saying when asked about the likely death toll.

“What we need right now is heavy search and rescue equipment.”