A hillside school where roughly 500 students crowded into several floors collapsed during classes Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring many more. Rescuers used bare hands to pull bleeding students from the wreckage.
Neighbors suspected the building was poorly rebuilt after it partially collapsed eight years ago, said Jinny Germain, a French teacher at the school. She said people who lived just downhill abandoned their land in fear the building would tumble onto them and the school's owner tried to buy up their vacated properties.
The concrete building's third story was still under construction, and Petionville Mayor Claire Rudie Parent said she suspects a structural defect caused the collapse, not the recent rains.
Police commissioner Francene Moreau says the preacher who runs the church-operated school could face criminal charges.
At least 39 bodies were brought to Port-au-Prince's General Hospital, Haitian police spokesman Garry Desrosier said. Another eight people died in a trauma center.