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Sweden to assist Haiti quake victims

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Sweden to assist Haiti quake victims
14:25 CET+01:00
Swedish disaster assistance groups were mobilizing on Wednesday to participate in international relief efforts in Haiti after the country was hit by a devastating earthquake.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap – MSB) said on Wednesday it will be sending two people "as early as tonight" to support United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination (UNDAC) teams on their way to Haiti.

“It's not uncommon for us to receive requests from the UN to help with IT and communications support when there is natural disaster,” MSB spokesperson Karin Wiklund told The Local.

“It's one of the areas where we've proven ourselves rather capable.”

According to foreign media reports, the quake, which measured 7.0 on the Richter-scale, brought widespread damage to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, leveling dozens of buildings, including the National Palace.

So far, there have been no official estimates of the number of casualties, although early indications are that the loss of life will be profound.

The headquarters of the UN mission in Port-au-Prince also collapsed, according to a statement by the international body.

According to the Swedish foreign ministry, ten Swedes working for the UN in Haiti were believed to be in Port-au-Prince at the time of the quake.

A foreign ministry spokesperson told Sveriges Television (SVT) that seven of the Haiti-based Swedes had contacted the ministry to say that they were fine.

Three other Swedes, however, remain unaccounted for, along with a number of other UN staff stationed in Port-au-Prince.

“We know there will be casualties but we cannot give figures for the time being,” Alain Le Roy, the chief of UN peacekeeping forces, told The Associated Press news agency in New York.

The foreign ministry has also been unable to contact Sweden's honourary consul in Port-au-Prince, as both fixed-line and mobile telephone networks remained out of service following the quake, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.

In addition to preparations by Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency, the Swedish branch of the Red Cross">Red Cross has teamed up with the Expressen newspaper in a drive for donations to assist victims of the earthquake.

According to the head of operations in Haiti for the Swedish chapter of the Star of Hope aid group, around half the buildings in and around Port-au-Prince have been destroyed.

The organization, which operates several projects near the Haitian capital, has also launched an appeal for aid for Haitian earthquake victims, as have a number of other Swedish charities.

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