He said that Augustin stated he had once worked on construction sites as a foreman.

Rene Preval, the Haitian president, said that he believed poor construction methods, including a failure to use reinforced steel, had been to blame for the tragedy.

Rescue efforts

Preval and Michele Pierre-Louis, the prime minister, were overseeing the emergency effort as recuers worked around the clock to remove people from the rubble. 

"Right now we cannot say how many bodies we will have because the work is not yet finished," he said.

Up to 700 students aged between three and 20 attended the church-run school.

Rescuers worked through the night in an attempt to find survivors [AFP]
UN engineers and soldiers from the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) worked to remove heavy pieces of concrete and to contain the large crowds of people gathered to help in the rescue efforts.

Joel Boutroue, the UN Humanitarian and Resident Co-ordinator in Haiti, told Al Jazeera: "We are entering a phase whereby the chaos is being replaced by a very orderly system … but the process is slow.

"The building itself is very shaky and may collapse if we are not careful, the search and rescue from France are risking their own lives by trying to go deeper into the building.

"It is still possible to find people who have been buried under the rubble alive, we have to stay hopeful, just a couple of hours ago they extracted two children alive from the school. There might be up to 200 children in the building.

"It was supposed to be a two-storey building, but they were building a third floor when it collapsed. A law enforcement mechanism is needed to reinforce the government of Haiti," he said.

Crying parents

US Agency for International Development (USaid) search and rescue teams were using digital cameras on long poles to search through the debris.

Local authorities had used their bare hands to pull bleeding students from the rubble before heavy equipment and international teams arrived late on Friday.

Crowds of screaming and crying parents searched for their children in the ruins, and roads around the school were so jammed with people that some rescuers had to be brought in by helicopter.

Two of Chimene Rene's children were found alive, but two sons, Stevenson Casamajor, 13, and Jeff Casamajor, 15, were still missing.
   
"We've been everywhere. We've been to the hospital, we've been everywhere looking for them," she said. "It seems there is no more hope now because it seems that nobody will come out alive from the rubble."