CORAIL-CESSELESSE, Haiti — A summer storm ripped through tents and sent solar-powered streetlights crashing down at the government's primary relocation camp for people left homeless by the January earthquake.
The storm damage on Monday, six months to the day after the disaster, intensified questions about why people were moved to the remote location from tent camps in the Haitian capital.
The Associated Press reported this week that the area has been slated for major development by Haitian officials and businessmen, who are in ongoing negotiations with South Korean garment firms to build factories there, and that the land it is on belongs to a company whose president headed the relocation effort.
The isolated desert plain of Corail-Cesselesse, some 15 miles north of Port-au-Prince, was billed as a safe relocation point where people would be protected from strong winds and floods. Thousands were moved there in April from the capital's Petionville Club golf-course camp managed by actor Sean Penn.
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Numerous aid groups, U.N. troops and the U.S. military helped with its construction.
It is now clear that the new camp, home to 7,000 people, sits atop a flood plain as well.
On Monday, torrents of water and high winds from the isolated storm collapsed 344 tents and sent 1,700 people — a quarter of the camp — fleeing for new shelters, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Six people were injured by flying tent poles and taken to hospitals. The collapse of the lights plunged the well-appointed camp into darkness, said Georgia McPeak of the American Refugee Committee, which manages the camp.
Terrified residents fled through racing streams toward any covering they could find. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
"People are not going to tolerate this situation anymore," said a young man who only identified himself as Alphonse. "We came here and they told us that in three months we will be relocated. Six months have passed and we are still here."
Replacement tents, tarps, cooking pots and other lost items were delivered to the camp under U.N. police and military escort Tuesday morning, the International Organization for Migration said. By Tuesday afternoon the rain had returned.
Camp Corail is notable for its amenities. Where surrounding tarp cities are perched on hillsides and at risk of gang incursions, Corail had security, lighting, latrines and ShelterBox tents billed as storm-resistant.