Trapped Haitian girl dies despite efforts
BY MIKE MELIA Associated Press
Friday, January 15, 2010
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Trapped beneath the crumbled remains of her home, the cries of the 9-year-old girl could be heard begging for rescue as neighbors clawed at sand and debris with their bare hands.
It had been two days since the earthquake collapsed the cinderblock home, trapping Haryssa Keem Clerge inside the basement. Friends and neighbors braved aftershocks to climb over the rubble, one of hundreds of toppled structures teetering on the side of a ravine.
In a city full of people desperately waiting for more help than neighbors can muster, it never came for Haryssa.
Just hours after her screams renewed rescuers' hopes Thursday, the child's lifeless body was finally pulled from the mass of concrete and twisted metal. Wrapped in a green bath towel, it was placed inside a loose desk drawer. With nowhere to take it, the body was left on the hood of an Isuzu Trooper.
"There are no police, no anybody," said the child's despairing godmother, Kettely Clerge. Neighbors had to hold her back as she walked toward the building's winding, partially collapsed stairway, wailing: "I want to see her!"
A day earlier, the little girl's mother, Lauranie Jean, was pulled from the rubble of the same house. She lay moaning inside a tent Thursday.
A neighbor, Bellefleur Jean Heber, said nobody expected help from authorities.
"Haiti is an abandoned country," he said. "People are relying on themselves."
Across Port-au-Prince, similar tragedies unfolded on Thursday. At the St. Gerard School, Cindy Terasme broke into sobs when she caught sight of her 14-year-old brother Jean Gaelle Dersmorne's feet protruding from the rubble. The child was dead.
So was another schoolgirl known only as Ruth, whose dust-covered legs dangled lifelessly from the collapsed wall she was trapped under.
An unknown number of people remain buried after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Tuesday, collapsing houses, office buildings and a children's hospital. Haitians used sledgehammers and their bare hands to search for survivors or bodies.
Cindy Terasme screams after seeing the feet of her dead brother, Jean Gaelle Dersmorne, in the ruins of St. Gerard School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday. Gerald Herbert / Associated Press