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UN launches $560 million aid appeal for quake-hit Haiti

RIA Novosti


UNITED NATIONS, January 15 (RIA Novosti) - The UN is asking for $560 million from the global community to help Haiti's quake victims, the organization's humanitarian chief said on Friday.

John Holmes said the funds will be used for urgently needed food, medical supplies, water and tents following Tuesday's earthquake that devastated the poor Caribbean nation of 9 million.

Holmes said about 9,000 people were confirmed as of Thursday night. Tens of thousands are feared dead after the quake, and hundreds of thousands were hurt or left homeless.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters earlier on Friday that up to 50% of buildings in Haiti's capital and areas around have been damaged or destroyed.

"Preliminary estimates from our UN emergency teams show widespread damage to infrastructure in Port-au-Prince and other affected areas, with as many as 50% of buildings in the worst-hit areas damaged or destroyed," the UN chief said.

He said a high proportion of the city's 3 million people were without access to food, water, shelter and electricity.

Ban said the UN is coordinating search and rescue efforts of teams arriving from countries across the world, but said heavy lifting machinery, helicopters, medical equipment and medicines are in short supply.

He said he would go to Haiti "very soon, both to show solidarity with the people of Haiti and our UN staff and to assess the situation for myself."

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the latest confirmed death toll among the 12,000 UN local personnel and expatriate employees in Haiti was 37, with 330 still missing.

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