Saturday, November 8, 2008

School Collapase

Many of you have been contacting me with questions about the school collapase, like most of you the only information I have recieved is what is on the internet news sites. Yahoo news reports have been printed off and passed around to us here. The report I have and I'm told is the most accurate is this...

PETIONVILLE, Haiti – Rescuers digging through a collapsed school in Haiti pulled more bodies from sandwiched slabs of concrete, raising the death toll to 75 on Saturday as crews continued searching for survivors. President Rene Preval said poor construction, including a lack of steel reinforcement, was to blame for Friday's collapse of the concrete College La Promesse in Petionville. Roughly 500 children and teenagers typically crowded into the three-story building. Preval told The Associated Press that structures throughout Haiti are at similar risk because of poor construction and a lack of government oversight. "It's not just schools, it's where people live, it's churches," he said at the site of the collapse as crews picked through the wreckage in search of more victims. Doctors Without Borders was treating more than 80 people, many with serious injuries, said Francois Servranckx, a spokesman for the aid group. Petionville Mayor Claire Lydie Parent said at least 17 students were found crushed in a single classroom on Saturday but the report was denied by a doctor and firefighter at the scene. "There are a lot of rumors, you know," said Cap Haitien Fire Chief Ardouin Zephirin, who was brought in from Haiti's second-largest city to help with the disaster on the outskirts of the capital. Preval said a previous mayor of Petionville had tried to halt the expansion of La Promesse over safety concerns but the effort faltered when a new mayor came into power in the hillside Port-au-Prince suburb. "We have got to have a consistent policy that when one administration leaves office the next continues its work," the president told AP. "The next time the mayor speaks and the authorities speak, people will listen." International aid was trickling in. Nearly 40 search-and-rescue officials from Fairfax, Virginia, were expected to arrive with dogs by Saturday afternoon, said Alexandre Deprez, acting director of the local U.S. Agency for International Development. "I see a dramatic turnabout in the situation once they're here," he said. "We've done everything we've possibly can practically from the first hour." The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, was sending two helicopters to help, Dominican Health Minister Bautista Rojas said. France also sent a team of 15 firefighters and doctors with two rescue dogs. A French civil protection official, Commandant Patrick Vailli, said Saturday that the workers spotted five people believed to be alive in the school's two basements and recovered two bodies. Haitian Police commissioner Francene Moreau said the minister who runs the church-operated school could face criminal charges. Efforts to reach the preacher were not successful. Thousands looked on from beside the school and across the valley, cheering each time a live student was extricated from the debris. One student who emerged and was lifted on a stretcher cried and made the sign of the cross over and over. Thousands of Haitian menial laborers live in collapse-prone hillside slums around the capital to be near the mansions of the foreign diplomats, U.N. staff and wealthy elite for whom they work. Parents said they toiled endlessly throughout the year to afford the school's $1,500 tuition in hopes of empowering their children to someday escape poverty. Haiti, the poorest and most politically tumultuous country in the Western Hemisphere, has been struggling to recover this year from riots over rising food prices and a string of hurricanes and tropical storms that killed nearly 800 people. U.N. peacekeepers were sent to Haiti following the bloody ouster of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and have improved security by fighting gangs and training local police.

Petionville is located about 20 - 30 min from where God's Littlest Angels is. We have not been able to help with efforts at the site because everyone has been asked to stay away and let the workers do their job. Dixie has contacted Lydie, the mayor of Petionville, who has shared some of the needs with us. We are all asking our supporters to help with these needs. We are collecting money to go to 3 specific causes. The money will go to help with the hospital costs of survivors as well as helping with funeral costs and provide relief for those paying for morgue bills. A morgue in Haiti charges about $100 a day to keep a body, this is a huge ammount and is not possible for many Haitians. If you would like to help with this you can send money to Mrs. Jean Bell 2085 Crystal River Dr. Colorado Springs, CO 80915 With School Relief in the memo. Please Please Please keep the people here in your prayers this week! There are many families who have lost precious children and many more who are still waiting on news. Pray for them. Pray also for us here that we would be witnesses in our actions towards the Haitian people at this time.

More news as I get it...

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