Haiti

Haiti: After school collapse, President admits State responsibility

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"What occurred was the result of instability and disorder on a state level in Haiti", said Haitian President René Préval following the collapse of the Evangelical 'La Promesse' school of Nerettes, a slum of the Pétionville suburb, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, with a preliminary toll of over 90 dead and 150 wounded among the students of ages 3 to 20. "The measures taken by an administration are not respected by the following one. Looking at this building, it is clear that constructors did not use sufficient steel or reinforced cement and that it wasn't conceived to hold so many people", added the President. It remains unclear how many students were in the building that collapsed, along with at least another five surrounding houses: at least 350, according to Haiti's civil protection. "This is one catastrophe, but we have many more to come", said Stephen Benoit, Petionville's representative in Parliament, who along with the Youth minister Evans Lescouflair yesterday attempted to calm a crowd of parents on the site of the disaster demanding that rescuers accelerate search operations. Based on official estimates, at least 2-million Haitians live in dilapidated houses in the poorest nation of Latin America, mainly in housing areas built in the hills. In a telegram signed by Vatican State Secretary Tarcisio Bertone, addressed to the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Joseph Serge Miot, Pope Benedict XVI expressed deep condolences for the victims, encouraging rescuers and solidarity of the people.[BO]