Port-au-Prince: A quake-damaged Haitian supermarket collapsed in the capital with several people inside and rescue crews were working to pull them out, a site supervisor and rescue workers said.
"There were looters inside the building," Meir Vaknin told AFP, referring to the Caribbean Market store. "I was trying to get rid of them and when the building fell there were some of them inside."
He estimated five to eight people had been in the building, and said at least one was spotted alive inside.
A Mexican rescue worker, Carlos Mendez, said they had found two people so far. Asked if they were alive, he said, "This is what we are going to find out."
The five-story building had been popular with well-off Haitians and was the capital's largest supermarket.
It was badly damaged in the devastating January 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, but remained partly standing.
Vaknin said a storage space fell onto the building on Tuesday as he was working at the site with an excavator to remove bodies still there from the quake.
Related artical: Resources differ in search for foreign, Haitian bodies
The collapse left a crater in the ground, and a large excavator could be seen inside of it.
"I was sitting in the excavator when it fell in," he said. "I'm so lucky to be alive."
He said no one from his crew was hurt.
At least two dozen rescue workers were at the scene, with US military and UN police sealing off the area.
Rescue workers were using cutting tools to try to reach people with the help of flood lights. Sparks flew as they cut metal with a saw then pulled away a tangled ball of metal.
The collapse came after the already stumbling relief effort was dealt a potential new blow when the WHO stopped providing free drugs to private clinics and NGOs after reports patients were being charged. Related article: WHO halts free drug delivery
First Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2010, 09:58