Headquarters of UN mission in Haiti seriously damaged

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The United Nations on Tuesday night confirmed that the headquarters of the UN mission in Haiti was seriously damaged after a strong earthquake hit the small island country.

"For the moment, a large number of personnel remain unaccounted for," UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy said in a statement.

"The United Nations can confirm that the Headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in Port au Prince has sustained serious damage along with other UN installations," he said.

While voicing his "deep concern," Le Roy said the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was gathering information on the extent of the damage and the status of UN personnel.

"Contacts with the UN on the ground have been severely hampered as communications networks in Haiti have been disabled by the earthquake," he added.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky told Xinhua that Le Roy would speak to journalists in the UN headquarters late Tuesday.

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

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake, which struck at 4:53 p.m. (2153 GMT), was followed by a tsunami and at least 13 aftershocks.

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