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10.11.2008 International

88 Dead In School Collapse

By Daily Guide

AT LEAST 88 people are dead after a school collapsed in Haiti. Rescue crews are still frantically digging through rubble in a search for students who may still be trapped.

 

The death tolled soared when workers uncovered a classroom with 17 bodies inside.

The owner of the school has been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter.

It is not known how many students were in the school when it collapsed on Friday morning, but authorities claim roughly 500 children and teenagers typically crowd into the three-story concrete building of College La Promesse.

The chaotic rescue effort by Red Cross workers, UN peacekeepers and Haitian authorities has been hindered by thousands of grieving families, who blocked the steep, narrow street and fought with school officials to enter the collapsed building in search of their children and friends.

UN peacekeepers and Haitian police were able to establish some order by setting up human chains and checkpoints along the road in the hills above Port-au-Prince.

But they have been unable to get heavy equipment through the crowds and to the scene, leaving rescuers to essentially work with their hands.

At least 39 bodies were taken to the morgue at Port-au-Prince's General Hospital, Haitian police spokesman Garry Desrosier said.

Another eight people died in a trauma centre run by the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

More than 80 others were being treated for injuries by the aid group.

Neighbours suspected the building was poorly rebuilt after it partially collapsed eight years ago, said Jimmy Germain, a French teacher at the school.

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