200,000 killed in Haiti quake, says premier

More than 200,000 people were killed in the January 12 earthquake that hit Haiti, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said yesterday.

Mr Bellerive said 300,000 people were injured in the disaster, including 4,000 amputees. Previous estimates from the Haitian government had put the toll between 150,000 and 200,000 dead.

Meanwhile, the United Nations yesterday assigned former US President Bill Clinton, now UN special envoy to Haiti, to coordinate international relief efforts in the earthquake-devastated country.

Mr Clinton will seek to organise a mass of aid initiatives and offers that have poured in since the quake.

In another development, US and Haitian governments are holding talks on the fate of 10 American missionaries accused of illegally trying to take children out of the quake-hit Caribbean country, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.

Haitian authorities said they would decide today whether to pursue a case against the missionaries, who were arrested on Friday trying to cross into the Dominican Republic from Haiti with a busload of 33 children they said were orphaned by the quake.

In Washington, Mrs Clinton said for the first time the two governments were discussing the missionaries’ case. “We are engaged in discussions with the Haitian government about the appropriate disposition of their cases,” she said.

The State Department said on Tuesday it had not been involved in any broad discussions about the missionaries’ case or any possible prosecution. (Reuters)

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