Overwhelming grief as Haitians bury victims of school collapse

PETIONVILLE, Haiti — Joceline Jean-Baptiste stared at the smiling photo of her daughter sitting among the yellow and orange carnations on top of the salmon-colored casket on Friday and initially refused to give in to the overwhelming sense of loss.

Even as others packed inside the Community Church of Christ collapsed around her with piercing cries, she sobbed quietly. But it wasn't long before the gut-wrenching pain of a mother having to bury her child broke through.

''My child, my child!'' Jean-Baptiste wailed as tears washed down her face and the cries echoed throughout the church. ''Oh, God. Oh, God,'' she said repeatedly as two other mourners grabbed hold of the grieving mother and led her out the side doors of the church. There mourners stood shoulder-to-shoulder, crowding the pews and balcony.

Jean-Baptiste's daughter, Dieunana Thelisma, 23, was among 91 victims killed when the College La Promesse Evangelique caved in exactly seven days ago. Another 162 people were injured when the school tumbled down for reasons that are still unclear, al though many have blamed poor construction.

The tears shed Friday were not only for Thelisma but also for 12-year-old Germima Eteise, whose white casket stood to the right of Thelisma's inside the cream-colored church with the tall columns. Her school photo also stood among carnations. Family and friends poured into various local churches in this impoverished nation to say their goodbyes.

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