United Nations/New Delhi: Eleven UN peacekeepers were killed on Wednesday as the strongest earthquake in more than 200 years jolted Haiti as officials said the 141-strong Indian contingent in the Caribbean nation is safe.
Eight Chinese and three Jordanian peacekeepers have been killed and hundreds others are unaccounted for including the Tunisian force chief as a 7.3 magnitude trembler shook the country, flattening almost all buildings in the capital Port-Au-Prince.
All the 141 Indian police peacekeepers from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), who are based in the capital which was worst hit are safe, according to the CISF spokesperson Rohit Katiyar at the force headquarters in New Delhi.
He said a part of the outer perimeter wall of the building in which Indian contingent is housed fell down, but the main structure remain intact.
India is still awaiting information about 50 other Consular level officers.
“Since we got the first information, we have been trying to establish contact with our Consulate there..... There are about 50 Consular level officers. We are awaiting information about them,” external affairs minister SM Krishna said in New Delhi.
Headquarters of the United Nations at Port-Au-Prince collapsed in the quake and Tunisian head of the peacekeepers is missing.
“The peacekeeping force building collapsed. For the moment we have no news from the 200 to 250 people in the building. We don’t know how many were still there at 5 am local time when the quake occurred,” Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman of an UN agency said in Geneva.
She said the buildings housing the UNICEF and World Food Programme (WFP) had survived the quake and aftershocks.
According to the UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy large number of UN personnel are unaccounted for. The UN has 9,000 peacekeepers in the country which include over 7,000 soldiers and 2,000 policemen.
Besides the eleven dead, 21 Jordanian soldiers were reported wounded and 10 Chinese peacekeepers were missing.
The Indian contingent was inducted in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in October 2008 to help with international efforts to ensure a safe environment in Haiti.
The Indian peacekeepers are involved in managing public disturbances, establishing checkpoints, tracking criminals and anti-crime operations.
The UN Security Council extended MINUSTAH through mid-October 2009, recognizing the impact that the civil disturbances in April 2008 and the devastating hurricane season have had on the country’s stability.