100 UN staff among ‘hundreds’ killed in Haiti quake

January 13th, 2010 - 9:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Jan 13 (DPA) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday “hundreds” of people may have been killed by a strong earthquake and its aftershocks that hit Haiti a day earlier, while more than 100 UN staff in the poor Caribbean remained unaccounted for.
Senior UN officials said the unaccounted staff members were in the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince and fewer than five staffers had been confirmed dead. Other UN staff were living in hotels, which collapsed, he said.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday in Paris that the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Haiti, Tunisian Hedi Annabi, was among those killed in the powerful earthquake. However, Ban could not confirm that Annabi, was among the dead though he and his second in command remained unaccounted for.

Ban presented “heartfelt sympathies” to the government and people of Haiti and urged the international community to rush assistance to the impoverished nation in the Caribbean, where 90 per cent of the population live on less than 1 dollar a day.

He said the earthquakes would trigger a major humanitarian crisis in addition to cutting off communication lines with the outside world. Ban said it had become “very, very difficult” to get in touch with UN personnel in Port-au-Prince.

Edmond Mullet, a UN undersecretary general, was being sent to Haiti as soon as possible for a first-hand look at the situation, Ban said. There are some 3,000 UN peacekeepers in the Haitian capital of the total of more than 7,000 troops and 2,000 police operating in the country.

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