Greatest Loss of Life Ever for UN: 36 Workers Dead, 106 Missing
January 15, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-At a time when the people of Haiti desperately need help, the UN mission in the impoverished Caribbean nation has suffered a devastating loss of life, with 36 UN workers confirmed dead and 106 missing. As the death toll is sure to climb in the coming days, the relief organization is on track to suffer its greatest loss of life in a single incident. Many of the UN workers are buried beneath the debris of the destroyed UN headquarters, which collapsed seconds after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Tuesday. On a bright note, eight UN workers have been rescued from beneath the concrete rubble of the Christopher Hotel, which served as the UN headquarters. But time is running out for the missing UN staff and peacekeepers whom have not been found and remain buried.
According to David Wimhurst, a U.N. spokesman in Haiti, 13 international staff, 19 peacekeepers and four U.N. police are among the dead, and dozens more are injured. UN officials expect the number of deaths to exceed the 44 Ghanaian peacekeepers killed in the Congo in 1961, which until now, was the single greatest loss of life for UN relief workers.
In the midst of all of the tragedy and devastation yesterday, rescue workers found an Estonian police officer, Tarmo Joveer, 38, alive under the rubble, after they heard him scratching beneath the piles of concrete. After dropping a rubber tube to Joveer to provide him with water, he was rescued unharmed hours later.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the rescue miraculous. “It was a small miracle during the night that brought few other miracles,” Ban said.
The U.N. chief in Haiti, Tunisian diplomat Hédi Annabi is still missing, as well as his deputy.
To date, the death toll has been estimated at around 50,000, but that figure could climb in the next few days, as bodies are recovered from the wreckage. “The death toll, I feel, could be very high. Clearly this is a major humanitarian crisis,” said UN Secretary Ban.
See the Washington Post for more.
Photo Source: JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images