Haiti

Haiti: Eleven Brazil soldiers killed in quake, many missing

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13 Jan 2010 17:35:03 GMT

Source: Reuters

* At least 11 Brazilian soldiers dead in Haiti quake

* At least 7 more are missing or trapped

* Supply planes to leave for Haiti on Wednesday (Updates with quotes, rescue operation, detail throughout)

By Raymond Colitt

BRASILIA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - At least eleven Brazilian soldiers from a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti were killed in the Caribbean country's huge earthquake, Brazil's army said on Wednesday.

At least seven more Brazilian soldiers were missing or trapped under rubble, the Army said in a statement.

"There may be more dead and missing, that's the information we have so far," Army General Carlos Barcellos told reporters in the capital Brasilia.

One of the buildings housing Brazilian troops "completely collapsed" in Tuesday's earthquake and soldiers were searching for survivors, the defense ministry said in a statement.

Brazil leads the U.N. peacekeeping force deployed to the poor Caribbean nation in 2004 after a rebellion by gangs and former soldiers forced elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile.

Thousands of people may be dead after the most powerful earthquake to hit Haiti in more than 200 years toppled the presidential palace and hillside shanties and left the country of 9 million people appealing for international help.

Brazil expects to send on Wednesday five planes with supplies including water and food for both civilian aid and for use by troops, Barcellos said. The South American country will donate $10-15 million and 14 tonnes of food.

Brazil has 1,266 army and navy troops in Haiti as part of the multinational force that as of 2009 including 9,065 police and military personnel from nations ranging from Jamaica to Sri Lanka.

Barcellos said communications with Haiti were patchy and road transport nearly impossible due to wreckage, making it difficult to get an exact count of the total number of Brazilians who perished in the quake.

A prominent Brazilian physician and social worker, Zilda Arns, was reported dead from the quake.

Top army officer General Enzo Peri and Defense Minister Nelson Jobim left for Haiti to assess the situation.

Some injured troops were being treated at a local hospital while others were being taken to the Dominican Republic, Barcellos said.

Brazil took the lead in commanding the military operation of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH, as part of its broader effort to boost its influence on the world stage. For facts on Brazil's involvement in Haiti please click on [ID:nN13218131].

(Additional reporting by Natuza Nery, Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Silvio Cascione; editing by Brian Ellsworth and Vicki Allen)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
For more humanitarian news and analysis, please visit https://www.trust.org/alertnet