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Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:50 - Updated Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:50

Haiti death toll could reach 200,000


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Port-au-Prince - The death toll in the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince could reach 200,000, the Haitian government said Friday.

"We have already collected around 50,000 dead bodies," Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime told Reuters. "We anticipate there will be between 100,000 and 200,000 dead in total, although we will never know the exact number."

The UN mission chief in Haiti, Hedi Annabi of Tunisia, and his deputy, Brazilian Luiz Carlos da Costa, are among the dead, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced Saturday.

Ban and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were heading to see the damage first-hand.

Meanwhile, government workers in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, began burying thousands of bodies in mass graves Friday as tempers continued to rise among survivors waiting for aid.

The Red Cross estimates between 45,000 and 50,000 dead. The agency based its figures on reports from volunteers across the city, said Jean-Luc Martinage, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"We consider this as an estimate," Martinage said.

UN officials in Port-au-Prince confirmed that 19 UN peacekeepers, four international police officers and 13 UN staff members are dead.

About 100 UN workers are trapped in the rubble of the UN headquarters that collapsed in the quake, while another 50 UN staff are unaccounted for elsewhere.