Sunday, November 9, 2008

4 rescued from Haiti school's collapse

The Associated Press
November 9, 2008

Reporting from Petionville, Haiti -- Rescuers pulled four children alive Saturday from the rubble of a three-story school that collapsed on hundreds of students and teachers, killing at least 88 people.

Emergency workers cradled the dazed children in their arms and rushed them into ambulances, U.N. police spokesman Andre Leclerc said.

The extent of the injuries to the two girls, ages 3 and 5, and two boys, a 7-year-old and a teenager, was unknown, Leclerc said. The 3-year-old had a cut on her head but did not appear to be seriously harmed, he said. "She was talking and drinking juice," Leclerc said.

Search teams from the United States and France joined the hunt for survivors in the remains of the hilltop College La Promesse in suburban Port-au-Prince a day after it tumbled down. Thousands of Haitians cheered and shouted directions to rescuers, and trucks carrying oxygen and other medical supplies rumbled up the hillside.

Nadia Lochard, civil protection coordinator for the region, said that the death toll had risen to 84 and that 150 people were injured.

U.S. rescuers using digital cameras on long poles to look under the rubble found at least six bodies, but think that two of them were included in Lochard's death toll, said Evan Lewis, a member of a team from Virginia.

Angelique Toussaint kept vigil on a rooftop overlooking the rubble and prayed that her 13-year-old granddaughter, Velouna, would be saved. "I think they're doing a good job. It's a little slow, but I'm relieved all these people are helping," Toussaint said.

President Rene Preval said poor construction, including a lack of steel reinforcement, was to blame for the collapse. He said structures throughout Haiti were also at risk.

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