UN concerned for Haiti after major earthquake

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "very concerned" for the people of Haiti and also for many UN staff who serve in the small Caribbean country, which was jolted by a major earthquake, a UN statement said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, UN officials have confirmed serious damage to the UN peacekeeping mission headquarters in Haiti in the earthquake.

"My heart goes out to the people of Haiti after this devastating earthquake," Ban said in the statement issued Tuesday night.

"At this time of tragedy, I am very concerned for the people of Haiti and also for the many United Nations staff who serve there," the secretary-general said. "I am receiving initial reports and following developments closely."

The United Nations has sent peacekeepers in the operation, known as the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) which was established on June 1, 2004 by the UN Security Council.

Ban is scheduled to meet with press on Wednesday morning at 8:20 a.m. EST (1320 GMT), said an urgent e-mail message from his spokesman.

The quake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, was the strongest ever recorded in the island country, reports from the country said.

So far, there are no confirmed casualties, but local media reported incidents of people being buried by collapsed buildings.

The collapsed buildings included the presidential palace and several ministerial offices in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.

The earthquake, which struck at 4:53 p.m. (2153 GMT), was quickly followed by a tsunami and two aftershocks measuring 5.9 and 5.5 respectively, according to reports.

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