Haiti: Fire At Orphanage Kills 15 Including Mostly Babies, Toddlers

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Officials said on Feb 14 that fire through a children's home run by Pennsylvania-based religious nonprofit group in Haiti killed 15 children, mostly toddlers.

Written By Aanchal Nigam | Mumbai | Updated On:

Fire through a children's home run by Pennsylvania-based religious nonprofit group in Haiti killed 15 children, officials said on February 14. A child-care worker at the home told the global news agency that the fire had begun at 9:00am (local time) on February 13 and the firefighters took at least 90 minutes to arrive. The orphanage was reportedly using candles for light amid problems with its generator and inverter. 

Among those who died due to the blaze, half were babies or toddlers and others were 10 to 11 years old. The recent fire had occurred at the orphanage run by  Church of Bible Understanding in the Kenscoff area outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. However, the cause of the fire is reportedly not clear. Jean-Francois Robenty, a civil protection official said that the rescue workers arrived on the scene on motorcycles and didn't have bottled oxygen or ambulances which were required to transport the children to the hospital.

“They could have been saved,” Robenty said. ″We didn’t have the equipment to save their lives.″

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Pennsylvania-based group 'aware' of incident

On February 14, the police also raided another home run by Church of Bible Understanding and took away several dozen children in a bus over protests from the employees. International media reports have listed the problems rising in both homes run by the group. A spokesperson for the group which is based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Temi J Sacks said that they were aware of the fire incident and wanted to get the facts before making any comments on the same. 

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Sacks said, “We are aware of the fire in the children’s home in Haiti. It would be irresponsible for us to comment until after all the facts are in.” 

After a series of inspection, the Church of Bible Understanding lost its accreditation for its homes in November 2012. The officials in Haiti faulted the group for overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, along with the untrained staff. According to the global news agency, the members of the religious group were selling expensive vintage building fixtures at high-end stores in New York and Los Angeles and then using the portion of those profits to fund its home sin Haiti. According to the most recent non-profit organisation filing, the group runs two homes with more than 200 children in Haiti as a part of a “Christian training program”. 

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(With AP inputs)

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