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1st Group of Philippine Quake Survivors Back Home

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The first batch of six Filipinos who survived the Haiti earthquake arrived at Manila-based Ninoy Aquino International Airport early Friday morning.

They arrived aboard a Philippine Airlines flight from Los Angeles.

Philippine government officials including those from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Social Welfare and Development welcomed the six.

OWWA head Carmelita Dimzon assured the six of assistance in getting home, and help in getting livelihood.

The Philippine National Red Cross and Department of Social Welfare and Development will also provide psycho-social counseling for them.

They are among the 64 Filipinos who were sent back from earthquake-devastated Haiti.

The second group of 18 will arrive on Saturday morning, and 40 others are expected to arrive in Manila early next week as their transit visas to the United States are still being arranged by the Philippine Embassy in Cuba, which has jurisdiction over Haiti, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Costs of their repatriation are being shouldered by the DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment, through the OWWA.

At the time of the strong quake on January 12, a total of 462 recorded Filipinos were in Haiti -- 290 civilians and 172 military and police peacekeepers.

Four Filipinos, three of them members of the Philippine peacekeeping contingent, were confirmed killed while two other Filipino workers believed to be trapped in the rubble of a collapsed supermarket remain missing.

(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2010)

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