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Parishioners found under the wreckage of a historic church following Haiti earthquake

by Kelly Valencia

At least 17 people have been found dead under the rubble resulting from the collapse of the wall and roof of a historic church in Haiti.

Immaculate Conception Parish church of Les Anglais suffered extensive damage after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the country on 14th August.

The lead priest of the church, Father Wilson Exantus Andre told AFP he was having a coffee at the presbytery and was due to return to the building to celebrate baptisms when the earthquake struck.

“The oldest of the deceased was 24 years old. What is hard is that a woman who has only two children, 18 years old and 3 years old, lost them both,” he said.

The church was part of the national heritage. “It was the pride of the people of Les Anglais, who never missed an opportunity to talk about it,” Father Wilson continued.

The earthquake also caused the collapse of the bishop’s residence in Les Cayes, killing Father Emile Beldor and injuring Cardinal Chibly Langlois. Father Jean-Antoine Coulanges is also missing, according to news outlet Crux.

More than 7,000 homes have been destroyed leaving at least 30,000 families homeless and more than 1,400 dead.

Lord Leslie Griffiths, who worked in Haiti for ten years with the Methodist church, told Premier organisations are already assisting the people in Haiti.

“Just feeding people is the very first prerogative,” he said. “We're doing what we can. But as people's health needs need to be addressed, people's just simple survival needs to be addressed. The wounded and the dispossessed need somehow to be given shelter.”

He went on to encourage Christians to pray for the nation at this time of distress.

“All I know is that my prayers have achieved an intensity that very little else has managed to produce from poor old me over the years,” Lord Griffiths said. “These are people that need prayer and everything that prayer can yield in the way of hope and sustenance.”

It is feared there will be more victims in the coming days as tropical storm Grace approaches the country, with forecasters predicting up to 15 inches of rainfall. 

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