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For many in Haiti quake, help is still a no-show

Haitians are angry, but not surprised, that they are left to dig out the trapped and haul off the dead on their own. Some people flee Port-au-Prince with whatever they could salvage.

January 15, 2010|By Joe Mozingo and Tracy Wilkinson

They found out her name, Emelen Marche. She was a young mother who had come to the school to pay her children's tuition.

By 5 p.m., the men had been working for seven hours in the muggy heat amid gathering flies and the nauseous smell of decomposing corpses. Two bodies were bloating up on the basketball court 20 yards away, a man was sprawled on the roof just a few feet away, and in another hole in the roof, the top half of a man who looked like a teacher lay crushed by a girder, still wearing his spectacles.

Nor was this the only excavation going on. On the other side of the roof, a natty old man in white pants, a white guayabera shirt and wingtip shoes directed young men to dig out his son. He sat on the roof, occasionally lying down and staring at the sky. He knew his son was gone; he just wanted him out.

Marche, the young mother, appeared likely to make it. The men gave her water and food through the hole. Jean Eddy Fleurantin took his turn with the pick. A young boy came down with a rusty hacksaw to cut through rebar.

She was talking. "Don't do that!" she would yell, when their strikes with the pick came too close to her hand.

As the sun set behind the mountains, and total darkness approached, a reporter asked when they thought she might be set free.

"That's in God's hands," Fleurantin said.

Even if she gets out, there is no happy ending to this story. The two children whose tuition Marche came to pay were crushed to death in their home.

Times staff writer Tina Susman contributed to this report.

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