UN Reports 64 Staff Missing After Massive Quake in Chile
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While searching for its 64 missing staff in Chile on Monday, the United Nations dispatched dozens of satellite phones from New York and Geneva to aid the earthquake-struck nation, a UN official said.
Alicia Barcena, the executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York by telephone from UN offices in Santiago, Chile, that all but 64 staff of the 2,635 staff and family members have been accounted for. There were no reports of UN fatalities or injuries.
Barcena said UN personnel were being dispatched to the homes of unaccounted staff because of the breakdown in communications.
More than 700 people died in the 8.8-magnitude earthquake early Saturday, government officials said, with the toll expected to climb, especially after communication is restored to more remote affected areas.
Chilean officials have requested international aid, specifying a need for mobile bridges, electric generators, water purification systems, field kitchens, hospitals and dialysis equipment, in addition to the satellite phones, Barcena said.
The UN World Food Program (WFP) has offered to send from nearby Ecuador 30 tons of food, she said.
Barcena commended the government of Chile for being "very efficient, very well-organized (and) very quick to respond."
(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2010)