- Associated Press - Friday, February 4, 2011

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (AP) - Two Haitian children have died from cholera after a pastor tried to cure them with a ceremony at his church instead of taking them to a hospital, Dominican health officials said Friday.

Four other children also diagnosed with cholera were rescued from the “Body of Christ” church, whose unidentified Haitian pastor remains on the run, according to a Health Ministry statement.

Officials said the pastor, known only as “The Prophet,” persuaded the parents to bring the six children to him for a ceremony to cure them after they showed cholera symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. Authorities did not release details about the ceremony but said it did not involve proper medical treatment.

The pastor locked the children inside his church Monday and tried to revive the two victims, age 3 and 9, through a ritual, officials said. He later fled the church, which is in a rural community in Puerto Plata, north of Santo Domingo.

Emilia Jean, mother of the 9-year-old, told authorities her son had complained of severe stomach pains.

It is unclear what the source of cholera was in this case. Health officials have ordered lab tests on water samples from a nearby river where the pastor often performed rites.

A total of three cholera deaths have been reported in the Dominican Republic, where officials continue to deport hundreds of Haitian migrants amid a health scare.

About 300 cholera cases have been confirmed in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, where nearly 4,000 people have died from cholera.



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