March 20, 2010 in Nation/World

Downpour floods camps

Haiti hasn’t solved need for relocation
Mike Melia Associated Press
Associated Press photo

A girl walks through a homeless earthquake survivors camp during heavy rains in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Friday. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on Jan. 12.
(Full-size photo)

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Baptists’ ex-lawyer arrested

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – A fugitive who once acted as the lawyer for a group of U.S. Baptist missionaries accused of kidnapping 33 Haitian children was arrested on human-trafficking charges, authorities said Friday.

Jorge Puello, 32, was detained at the United States’ request as he left a McDonald’s restaurant late Thursday in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo, said National Drug Control Agency spokesman Roberto Lebron.

Puello is wanted in Vermont and in Canada for smuggling illegal immigrants, and in Philadelphia for probation violations related to fraud charges, said a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Puello has denied all of the allegations.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – One of the heaviest rainfalls since Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake swamped homeless camps Friday, sweeping screaming residents into eddies of water, overflowing latrines and panicking thousands.

The overnight downpour sent water coursing down the slopes of a golf course that now serves as a temporary home for about 45,000 people.

There were no reports of deaths in the camp, a town-size maze of blue, orange and silver tarps located behind the country club used by the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne as a forward operating base.

Aid workers said people were swept screaming into eddies of water and flows ripped down tents an Israeli group is using as a school.

“They were crying. There was just fear down there. It was chaos,” said Jim Wilson of the aid group Praecipio, who came running from his own shelter up the hill when he heard the screams.

After the sun rose Friday, people used sticks and their bare hands to dig drainage ditches around their tarps and shanties.

Officials know they must move many of the 1.3 million people before the rainy season starts in earnest in April.

But after two months of searching and wrangling with landowners, the government has still not opened any of the five promised relocation sites that are better able to withstand rain and aftershocks.

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