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UN death toll in Haiti quake rises to 92
United Nations, FEB 2 (Agencies):
Published on 2 Feb. 2010 11:49 PM IST
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A total of 92 UN employees have died in Haiti’s devastating earthquake, with seven still unaccounted for, the acting head of the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said today. Edmond Mulet announced the new death toll, up from 84 on Friday, in a video conference from Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital which was largely devastated in the January 12 quake. “So far we have confirmed 92 deceased and we still have seven unaccounted for,” he said. Mulet, a top UN peacekeeping official sent by UN chief Ban Ki-moon to put MINUSTAH back on its feet after mission chief Hedi Annabi and his Brazilian deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa were killed in the 7.0-magnitude temblor, added that 30 UN staffers had been injured in the world body’s deadliest disaster. The quake killed around 170,000 people and left one million homeless and short of medicine, food and water in the impoverished Caribbean nation of nine million people. International rescuers have pulled more than 130 people alive from the ruins. Meanwhile, the airlift of critically injured patients from Haiti resumed full speed Monday as the U.S. government agreed to pick up their medical costs, resolving a sticky problem for hospitals in South Florida and the nation. U.S. military medical evacuation flights from the devastated nation had halted for five days because of uncertainty over the arrangements. The first flight of the renewed airlift was due to deliver two dozen victims to Palm Beach International Airport on Monday night. “It’s fantastic news,” said Dr. William O’Neill, dean of clinical affairs at the University of Miami medical school. O’Neill is helping coordinate medical rescue efforts. “There was a very large concern that South Florida hospitals were going to get inundated with patients for whom they would not get compensated,” O’Neill said. “They now have a format so they know they can take these patients without it breaking them.” O’Neill said at least three people who died in Haiti might have survived if they could have been flown to Florida. Officials estimated South Florida hospitals, which have taken in 461 of 538 injured people flown to the state, have spent several million dollars treating uninsured earthquake victims. The military halted medical evacuation flights Wednesday after Gov. Charlie Crist sent a letter to federal disaster planners saying local hospitals were near saturation and asking that federal disaster funds begin to flow. Without the military, private rescue flights could carry only a few critically injured people at a time. Crist and South Florida hospital officials have since said they never meant to imply they could not or would not take more earthquake victims.

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