Please Pray for School As They Search For Survivors

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti  — At least 50 people have died in a school collapse in Petionville, near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, officials said Friday night.

Civilians and U.N. peacekeepers carry a victim from Friday's school collapse in Petionville.     

Rescue personnel planned to continue working into the night to dig out students and teachers buried in the rubble, the Red Cross said. At least 100 people have been injured, the Haitian Civil Protection Bureau said. The death toll is expected to rise. Officials said the school could have held as many as 700 people when the collapse occurred at 10 a.m.  Some students were in class while others were in a playground.

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“We are looking at major casualties here,” Claudon said.

He said dozens of students appeared to be trapped inside but couldn’t give an exact number. However, he said it was a typical school day and the building had been crowded. Most of the students at the College La Promesse Evangelique range in age from 3 to 20, he said. Haitian press reports said the school has kindergarten, primary and secondary students.

President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis toured the disaster area. “I heard and saw with my own eyes children appealing for help,” Preval was quoted saying.

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“On the phone, you can hear so many children, crying and saying, ‘this one is dead,’ ‘that one is dead,’ ” she said. Claudon said hundreds of bystanders and rescue workers were digging through the rubble, but “what we need right now is heavy search-and-rescue equipment.”

The school is in an extremely poor part of town, and the roads are nearly impassable, local journalist Clarens Renois said. “The school is poorly built,” said Amelia Shaw, a journalist with United Nations TV who visited the scene. Renois described the building as “not quite solid” with “weak construction.”

The school consisted of two floors with an addition built in the rear over a 200-foot ravine, Shaw said. The steep hillside, she said, is covered with shanty-like housing on both sides. The disaster occurred when the second floor crumbled onto the first.

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PLEASE BE IN PRAYER AS THE SEARCH FOR CHILDREN CONTINUES RIGHT NOW!

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