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Haiti protesters burn plane of Venice-based missionary group

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VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — Video out of Haiti shows a group of demonstrators setting fire to an airplane that belongs to a missionary group based in the Tampa Bay area.

Venice-based Agape Flights is now working to get their team out of the country. The missionaries were not on the plane at the time and they are safe, officials with the group said.

Video taken Tuesday shows protestors storming the airport in Les Cayes, Haiti. The video shows people climbing on the plane before pushing it to a nearby roadway and setting it on fire.

“It was devastating and heartbreaking,” Agape Flights Communications Director Abby Duncan said.

The Christian organization operates out of the Venice Municipal Airport. Their team of missionaries arrived in Haiti on Sunday to help people still recovering after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the island in August.

“Our team actually there didn’t even know at the time because they were they were doing missionary work. They were rebuilding this church,” said Duncan.

In addition to the earthquake, Haiti is also experiencing a political crisis and increased gang violence.
Agape Flights says protesters may have believed their plane belonged to a politician.

In the wake of the incident, the group is suspending its humanitarian efforts this week to focus on getting their team out of the country. A mission trip scheduled for Thursday was canceled due to safety concerns.

“We’re not led to believe that they’re in any danger but we are taking the steps to make sure that they are not,” Duncan said. “We have plans made for their safe departure. But, just in case, you know, they’re heavily secured and we’re taking the steps to make sure that they’re OK.”

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