Haiti earthquake: 10 UN peacekeepers from Brazil killed
The Haiti earthquake has killed at least 10 Brazilian soldiers, according to Brazil's military. Brazil took charge of the peacekeeping force in Haiti in 2004.
Nine others are being treated for injuries, according to a military statement.
Brazil took over as the main peacekeeping force on Haiti in 2004 and retains command of an operation with more than 1,200 Brazilian soldiers.
Another Brazilian victim was Zilda Arns, the legendary founder of the Children’s Pastoral, a Roman Catholic Church-based group that has saved tens of thousands of lives by teaching uneducated women about basic health care issues.
The death toll could still rise.
Preliminary reports said the rubble scattered across the city made it hard for military vehicles to determine the true scope of the damage. A lack of power and street lighting added to the confusion in the first hours after the quake, which struck at around 5:30 pm Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday.
“The civilian population has turned up en masse at the Brazilian Command Battalion base least affected by the shocks, looking for help and assistance in rescuing the injured,” a military statement said.
A Brazilian Air Force plane taking troops for a new tour of duty in Haiti was due to land shortly after the quake hit but was turned back because of damage at the airport, according to the Air Force.
The priority now is getting food and water to the victims and the Air Force has eight planes on standby in Manaus and Rio de Janeiro, waiting to fly to the island with supplies. Two planes are taking off tonight, carrying 11 tons of water and 10 tons of food.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was keen to have a Brazilian presence in Haiti both in solidarity with a poor neighbor and as a way of promoting Brazil’s presence on the international stage. With the country emerging as an economic power, Lula wants Brazil to take on more of a leadership role, especially within Latin America.
Brazilians are highly thought of by many in Haiti, in large part because of their football team. Haitians often support Brazil during World Cups and when Brazil sent a team containing Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, and Ronaldinho to play in Port-au-Prince in 2004, the players were met by tens of thousands of delirious fans who surrounded them from the moment they touched down