Haiti: Red Cross Red Crescent responds to school tragedy

News and Press Release
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By Milagros Mateos in Geneva

The Red Cross Red Crescent is in action following the devastating collapse of a school building near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Around 90 young people have been killed and scores more are missing.

"The whole school collapsed on the kids," said Michaele Gédéon, president of the Haitian National Red Cross Society.

Haitian officials have confirmed that more than 90 bodies have been recovered and at least 150 people have been evacuated with serious injuries. A well-coordinated early response by Red Cross Red Crescent partners enabled the evacuation of more than 20 people.

Search and rescue efforts

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Haitian National Red Cross Society, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), members of the UN Haiti peacekeeping force, and other humanitarian organizations took part in the search and rescue efforts, in support to the Haitian authorities.

Many humanitarian organizations present in the country have been providing medical assistance and have been assisting in the search for survivors.

"I would like to pay tribute to the Haitian Red Cross volunteers and staff, the ICRC personnel and National Societies delegates who operated together inside the collapsed building, aware of the danger of it, and risking their own life to save others" said Alex Claudon Federation Representative.

Struggling to recover

The disaster took place at a time when the country is struggling to recover from several major tropical storms and hurricanes that have affected thousands of people and destroyed more than half of their crops during the past few months.

Since the onset of the disaster, the International Federation and the ICRC, which are present in the country, offered the Haitian National Red Cross Society all available resources, including vehicles and specialized personnel.

The ICRC and the Haitian Red Cross have set up a temporary space to provide support to the victims' families and to facilitate information collection with regards to the identity and location of victims. The emergency is currently being handled by the Haitian Red Cross, and the International Federation will continue to provide support with logistical resources if needed.