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Brazilian Gov't Confirms Deaths of 17 Brazilians in Haiti Earthquake

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Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim confirmed on Friday the deaths of at least 17 Brazilian citizens in an 7.0-magnitude earthquake which devastated Haiti on Tuesday.

According to the minister, 14 of those dead are military personnel who were part of the United Nations' mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and three others are civilians. Among them was physician Zilda Arns, founder of one of the most important humanitarian projects in Brazil, the Pastoral Care of the Child.

The names of the two other civilians were not released, but one of them is likely to be UN official Luiz Carlos da Costa.

The minister also said that the four Brazilian military personnel that are still missing are most likely dead, since they were reportedly at the Christopher Hotel, which was completely destroyed by the earthquake.

Minister Jobim returned home on Friday morning from a visit to Haiti on Wednesday. The minister was sent by the Brazilian government to assess the damage caused by the earthquake and determine the best strategy for Brazil to help the Caribbean country.

Jobim also said that the bodies of the Brazilian military personnel who died in the earthquake are to arrive in Brazil on Sunday, at the latest. Zilda Arns' body has been returned to the country aboard the minister's plane and her funeral will start later on Friday at Curitiba, her hometown. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has already confirmed his presence on Arns' funeral.

(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2009)


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