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Rescuers give up search for survivors of collapsed supermarket

Rescue workers abandoned the search on Wednesday after close to six hours of searching for survivors with ultra-sensitive equipment inside a Haitian supermarket that collapsed on Tuesday.

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AFP - Rescue workers abandoned the search for survivors at a Haitian supermarket that collapsed with several people thought to be inside Tuesday.

After almost six hours of searching, rescue teams using ultra-sensitive listening equipment and specialized cameras said they saw no signs of life, and began to leave the site, which partially collapsed in last month's quake.

They earlier sawed away at debris under the glare of flood lights, trying to find an estimated five to eight people thought to be in the Caribbean Market, at various points asking for silence so they could listen for victims.

The latest collapse occurred as a private contractor was recovering the bodies of those killed in last month's quake -- the victims of which still lay nearby covered in white sheets.

"There were looters inside the building," site supervisor Meir Vaknin told AFP. "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 inside, but the actual number was unknown.

A Mexican rescue worker, Carlos Mendez, said earlier said they had detected two people, and were trying to determine if they were alive.

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 around 212,000 people, but remained partly standing.

Vaknin said the collapse occurred Tuesday as he was working at the site with an excavator to remove bodies still there from the quake.

A large excavator could be seen collapsed inside a hole in the ground, which rescuers said was about two stories deep.

"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 had rushed to the scene from the nearby Hotel Montana, where painstaking efforts are still underway to recover bodies of many foreigners though to have perished there.

 

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