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Haiti leader: It will take three years to clear rubble

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - It will take three long years to clear the rubble left by Haiti's devastating earthquake, said President René Préval, who admitted even he's still afraid to sleep under concrete in case another quake strikes.

In a rare exclusive sit-down interview, Préval told Associated Press Television News on Monday that Haiti faces a long reconstruction process that will result in fewer people living in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

"It will take 1,000 trucks moving rubble for 1,000 days, so that's three years. And until we move out rubble, we cannot really build," he said.

Sitting in the airport police station that serves as temporary government headquarters, Préval calmly laid out the difficulties of rebuilding an impoverished country amid aftershocks and the threat of more tremors.

He said the government has destroyed some hastily rebuilt structures in the capital, but he said that until alternative housing plans can be completed, the government's ability to regulate reconstruction will be limited.

Asked about residents' assertions that local corruption has interfered with the international aid effort, he replied: "It is possible that there have been irregularities. However, I should point out that the government isn't the direct manager of most of this humanitarian assistance."

He referred further questions to relief organizations and local and international governments engaged in food distribution. - AP

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