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Rescuers search a collapsed section of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Eight people, including seven Americans, have been rescued from the rubble at the hotel.
The family alerted the media of her arrival in order to spread the message that aid is desperately needed in the rural area outside the capital where they were volunteering.
When the earthquake hit shortly before 5 p.m. last Tuesday, Mark Pasternak and his daughters were in a van with San Rafael resident Barbara Wander and several others, headed to a school in Riviere Froide, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
They had spent the day in the village of Signeau building rabbit hutches as part of a volunteer project. The Pasternaks, who own Devils Gulch Ranch in Nicasio, have traveled to Haiti regularly to volunteer since 2007.
The earthquake felt like little more than a bumpy road from the van, but when Pasternak and his daughters arrived at Riviere Froide, they found that the three-story school had collapsed, trapping hundreds of children inside, including many orphans and disabled children.
Kaplan-Pasternak, who was running errands in Port-au-Prince that day, was unhurt and arrived back at the school shortly after her family. The survivors worked through the night to pull about 100 children from the rubble, 25 of whom died, Kaplan-Pasternak said Monday.
Kaplan-Pasternak spoke calmly Monday about what she had seen, but her descriptions were heartbreaking.
"We had this one girl who was missing a whole portion of her skull," she said.
When she left Haiti, it was estimated that there were 100 or more children still trapped in the collapsed school. Now the Pasternaks are anxious to spread the word that help is urgently needed in Riviere Froide. When she left, Kaplan-Pasternak said, no aid had arrived.