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Fire guts textile market in Haitian capital

© AFP | A woman tries to save her merchandise from the fire that broke out at the textiles market in Port-au-Prince on February 18, 2018

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - 

A fire gutted a textiles market in Haiti's capital on Sunday, less than a week after a blaze partially destroyed a historic market, underscoring authorities' failure to ensure public safety.

Officials in Port-au-Prince sent in the few fire trucks available to fight the blaze. They were reinforced by private water tankers and police and UN vehicles outfitted with water cannons, normally used for crowd control

The capital's mayor voiced regret at authorities' poor capacity to protect people in Haiti, the most impoverished nation in the Americas.

"It's the weakness of the state, communities, the weakness of Haiti. This fire could have been avoided but the equipment is not there," Mayor Youri Chevry said. "It's our fault, all of us.

"We have a problem and we have to manage our priorities," he stressed.

Dozens of vendors sat by helpless. One woman fretted that her children only had her to support them, and that losing her wares meant she'd never be able to repay a small loan she took out to start her business.

It was not immediately known what started the blaze.

Last Tuesday, a fire destroyed one of two halls at the 19th century Iron Market in Port-au-Prince. Damage for the building was estimated at between $5 and 7 million, without including the value of destroyed goods.

© 2018 AFP