Mangalorean.Com- Serving Mangaloreans Around The World! 'Tens of thousands' killed in Haiti quake Washington, Jan 14 (DPA) Haitian President Rene Preval said estimates of the death toll in the devastating earthquake in capital Port-au- Prince could easily be in the tens of thousands, while other officials said more than 100,000 may have perished. "Up to now I've heard 50,000, I've heard 30,000. Let's say, it's too early to give a number," Preval told broadcaster CNN, conceding that any sort of official estimate was extremely difficult. "I am still trying to understand myself the magnitude of the event." Earlier, he had told The Miami Herald that thousands may have been killed in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that rocked the country Tuesday afternoon, and issued an appeal for world assistance. The damage was centred in and around the capital Port-au-Prince, home to about 1.9 million people. Figures for the number of dead remain murky as the government tries to assess the damage. Speaking on CNN, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said: "I believe that we are well over 100,000" dead, based on the number of buildings that have collapsed. The UN mission in Haiti said Wednesday that the country suffered "massive and broad" destruction from the devastating earthquakes which may result in large number of casualties. Fifty to 100 UN staff remained unaccounted for a day after the earthquake, said Vicznezo Pugliese, spokesman for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Separate reports say the dead included soldiers from Brazil, China and Jordan. The end death toll could amount to the largest number of deaths ever for any UN single mission. UN officials warned that the situation remained fluid because the quake and its aftershocks had cut off communication lines between UN headquarters in New York and the mission in Haiti. Pugliese said hotels, hospitals, schools and the national prison in Port-au-Prince all suffered extensive damage. Electricity was interrupted and water was in short supply. "Casualties, which are vast, can only be estimated," Pugliese said in a statement made available at UN headquarters in New York. The missing staff had worked in the main MINUSTAH office, a six-storey concrete building which collapsed. Normally, between 200 and 250 UN staff worked in the main office building but many may have left before the quakes struck. Ten other staff were still unaccounted for who worked for UN agencies like the UN Development Programme, some of whom were in hotels. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians slept in the streets Tuesday night after the earthquake struck, fearful that their houses would collapse. UN soldiers and police patrolled Port-au-Prince since the earthquake to maintain order and security. The UN Security Council held a minute of silence before it met Wednesday and issued a statement expressing "deepest sympathy and solidarity" to Haitians killed or affected by the catastrophe. The 15-nation council also voiced support for the government of Haiti and called on UN members to assist the country in rescuing the survivors. John Holmes, the top UN coordinator for humanitarian emergency, said there was no "reliable information at the moment". The earthquake with magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale struck the impoverished Caribbean nation Tuesday right before 5 p.m. local time. Holmes said a Chinese search and rescue team had arrived in Port-au-Prince. There are 119 Chinese police in the UN mission in Haiti. Taiwan was sending 55 rescue workers and two search-and-rescue dogs, Taiwan officials said earlier Wednesday. US and other country rescue teams were scheduled to reach Haiti in coming days. UN peacekeepers' death toll in Haiti could be highest ever New York, Jan 13 (DPA) The death toll among United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti in a massive earthquake could be the largest number ever killed during a mission once formal casualty figures are established. The mission chief, Hedi Annabi, his deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa, and at least another 100 UN personnel were unaccounted for Wednesday, a day after an earthquake with magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale struck the impoverished Caribbean nation. UN Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Alain LeRoy said in New York that the UN still had no information about the fate of those unaccounted for. "It's a profound concern for us," LeRoy said. The UN stabilization mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym MINUSTAH, is housed in a five-storey concrete building in the Haiti capital Port-au-Prince. The building is across the street from the Christopher Hotel, a major residence for UN staff, which sits atop a fault line. Both of the buildings, which are among the strongest and most important structures in the capital, were destroyed. Some 3,000 UN peacekeepers have been assisting in rescue efforts in and around Port-au-Prince since the earthquake and some 25 aftershocks struck. UN peacekeepers die in missions around the world each year, but the death toll in Haiti could easily top all those killed in the past. MINUSTAH has slightly over 7,000 military troops, most of them from Brazil, and 2,000 police sent by scores of countries to Haiti to train the country's police force. At least four Brazilian soldiers were killed in the tremblor and the death toll could climb, the military said in Brasilia. MINUSTAH was involved in building democratic institutions in Haiti, and repairing Haiti's infrastructure after the country was hit by four consecutive hurricane and tropical storms in 2008. The natural disasters destroyed most of Haiti's agricultural lands and many properties. The mission's stabilization mandate has been to assist the government of President Rene Preval build a police force to meet security challenges. In a progress report issued late last year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Haiti, after five years of the stabilization process, has moved "away from a past of conflict towards a brighter future of peaceful development". A majority of Haiti's nine million people still live in poverty and the country depends heavily on international humanitarian and development assistance. Thousands feared killed as massive quake hits Haiti Port-au-Prince/Washington, Jan 13 (DPA) Haitian President Rene Preval said Wednesday that thousands may have been killed in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that rattled his country and issued an appeal for aid to his impoverished nation. The deaths and extent of damage in Port-au-Prince, the city of 1.9 million, were difficult to determine after Tuesday's violent quake, but the United Nations and aid agencies have said hundreds were likely killed. Many survivors were believed to still be stuck in rubble, and the Red Cross said up to three million people might require humanitarian assistance across Haiti. The 7.0 magnitude quake is the region's worst in a century, the US Geological Survey said. In an interview with the Miami Herald, his first since the quake, Preval did not provide an official casualty toll. "We have to do an evaluation," Preval told the paper. He said he had had to step over dead bodies and could hear the cries of trapped citizens, including under the national parliament building. "Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed," he said. "There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them." "All of the hospitals are packed with people. It is a catastrophe," he said. Among the buildings destroyed were the UN headquarters on the island, the presidential palace and numerous government buildings and hotels housing western tourists. Offers of aid had poured in from around the world. US President Barack Obama said in Washington Wednesday the US will respond swiftly to assist the people of Haiti, calling the devastation that struck the Caribbean nation "truly heart wrenching". The US military has already conducted overflights to determine the extent of the damage and assistance and rescue team were preparing to deploy to Haiti, Obama said. The US government was also trying to account for US personnel at the embassy in Port-au-Prince and other American citizens in the country, Obama said. Raymond Alcide Joseph, Haitian ambassador to the US, said at a press conference in Washington that First Lady Elisabeth Debrosse Delatour had requested the global community to send hospital ships - given the precarious health infrastructure - and well-equipped first responders to come in with dogs to search for the living and the dead under the debris. The US Agency for International Development said up to 72 people, six search and rescue dogs and 42 tonnes of equipment were on the way. The country is home to the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) of 7,000 troops and 2,000 police along with 500 foreign civilians and 1,200 local employees. More than 100 UN staff in the poor Caribbean nation remained unaccounted for. Several hospitals were reportedly "taken completely out of commission," Paul Conneally with the International Federation of Red Cross Societies in Geneva, said, while "others are overwhelmed and turning people away". Hospitals in the neighbouring Dominican Republic were bracing Wednesday to receive hundreds of injured Haitians. "The immediate need is to rescue people trapped in the rubble, then to get people food and water. We're particularly worried about the children, because so many schools seem to have collapsed," said Sophie Perez with the humanitarian aid group CARE. "Children were still in school in the afternoon when the earthquake hit, so there are many children trapped. It's horrifying," the aid worker said. Perez was in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince when the earthquake hit, working on aid projects for the poor and underdeveloped island nation that has seen both conflicts and extreme natural disasters in recent years. "It was terrifying. It lasted for more than a minute. The whole building was shaking. People were screaming, crying," she said. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, making rescue efforts even more difficult due to the poor existing infrastructure. Telephone networks had reportedly collapsed, with fires in the capital Port-au-Prince witnessed, probably from collapsed gas pipes. The quake struck at 4.53 p.m. (2153 GMT) Tuesday, some 15 km southwest of the city at a depth of 10 kilometres. More 25 aftershocks have been recorded since the initial tremblor. France, the former colonial power, announced Wednesday it was immediately sending two planes, humanitarian aid and around 60 rescue workers. Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ordered $10 million in aid and food be sent and spoke of fears over the situation of both the Haitian people and the over 1,000 Brazilians who are active in the troubled nation as part of a UN mission. At least four members of the Brazilian military were killed and five others were injured, the army said in Brasilia. Pitt, Jolie reach out to Haiti quake victims London, Jan 13 (IANS) Hollywood star couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have stepped in to help victims of the Haiti earthquake, which has left thousands of people dead and many homeless. The poverty-stricken Caribbean island was hit hard by a massive tremor measuring 7 on the Richter Scale Tuesday that struck just south of capital city Port-au-Prince. Rapper Wyclef Jean has also urged the public to donate money to help the rescue efforts in the country and the Hollywood supercouple has come forward to aid the campaign, contactmusic.com reports. "We are devastated by the news from Haiti. We will work closely with our good friend Wyclef Jean to support the humanitarian efforts on the island and help those who have been injured and left without homes and shelter," read a statement from Pitt-Jolie. Added Jean: "I cannot stress enough what a human disaster this is, and idle hands will only make this tragedy worse. The over 2 million people in Port-au-Prince face catastrophe alone. We must act now." Meanwhile, hip-hop star Sean 'Diddy' Combs is also pleading for help to raise funds for those affected. Taking to his Twitter.com page, he wrote: "God Bless Haiti! God please! State of Emergency!" He then requested fans donate cash to Jean's Yele Haiti charity organisation.