International search and rescue teams in support of Haitian firefighters have been working endlessly to rescue victims from the debris of the La Promesse school that collapsed last Friday morning in Nerette, Petion ville commune, Port-au-Prince. All hopes of finding any more persons alive seems to be fading away since no more survivors have been found since early Saturday.
Frustration mounted as onlookers waited anxiously to see the rescue of their fellow compatriots. This prompted a small group of unequipped Haitians to start digging through the rubble with their bare hands alongside the rescue team. Unfortunately, so far, their efforts have been to no avail. The rescue team has opened up new areas to search by tearing down a high concrete slab that had been impeding access since the collapse of the building. After carrying out extensive search using high-tech equipment, cameras and dogs, the rescue team has now started to demolish the building.
Although the exact number of children who were in the school when it collapsed is still unknown, the government has estimated 250-260. Haitian officials have stated that some students were able to escape when the building began to crumble last Friday.
Official information provided by the Haitian Civil Protection Unit shows that:
- 93 victims are reported dead;
- 150 wounded persons have been transferred to hospitals.
The owner of the school who turned himself in on Saturday is now being questioned by Haitian authorities.
During a press conference held yesterday 10 November, the government promised to cover part of the medical costs for victims and the funeral arrangements of those who lost their lives in this incident.
The government has also started to inspect schools to ensure that they comply with the construction guidelines of the country. A few schools have already been shut down following this inspection operation.
OCHA Haiti in support to the Haitian Civil Protection Unit continues to monitor the situation very closely.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.