The UN says more than 100 people are missing in the rubble of the collapsed UN headquarters building in Haiti, including the mission chief, and nearly 40 other UN staff are also unaccounted for in other damaged buildings.
UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said "less than 10" people have been pulled out, and he could confirm "less than five" deaths.
He would not confirm French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's report that everyone in the UN building, including mission head Hedi Annabi, appeared to have died in the earthquake.
Le Roy also refused to confirm reports that Brazilian, Jordanian and Chinese peacekeepers were killed, saying the UN thinks only "a very small number" of peacekeepers were killed because their buildings did not collapse.
"In Port au Prince we have now 3,000 forces. They are there to secure the airport, the port and the main buildings, and patrolling. That is already happening," Le Roy said.
Brazil's army said at least 11 Brazilian soldiers were killed, nine injured and seven were missing, and Jordan's official news agency said three of its peacekeepers were killed and 21 were injured.
A state newspaper in China said eight Chinese peacekeepers were known dead and 10 were missing — though officials later said the information was not confirmed.
The UN's Haitian mission — spread across the country — includes 7,000 peacekeeping troops, 2,000 international police, 490 international civilian staffers, 1,200 local civilian staffers and 200 UN volunteers, he said. The force was brought in after a bloody 2004 rebellion following decades of violence and poverty in the nation.
Le Roy said one good piece of news is that an early morning assessment found that the airport "is fully operational" which means planes carrying desperately needed relief can start arriving quickly.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday's "catastrophic earthquake" has devastated the capital of the Western hemisphere's poorest country and the death toll "may be in the hundreds or even thousands."
"Initial reconnaissance and aerial assessments have been undertaken," he said. "Buildings and infrastructure were heavily damaged throughout the capital. Basic services such as water and electricity have collapsed almost entirely. ... Medical facilities have been inundated with injured."
Ban said UN troops worked through the night to reach those trapped under the rubble at the UN headquarters building and have begun clearing some of the main roads in Port au Prince "which will allow assistance and rescuers to reach those in need."
The secretary-general urged the international community "to come to Haiti's aid in this hour of need" and announced that the UN would provide $10 million for relief from its emergency fund. A UN emergency response team will start arriving in Haiti later Wednesday to coordinate humanitarian relief efforts, the UN said.
Ban said he has been "in urgent contact" with the US government and requested logistical support, heavy equipment and trained rescue and assistance teams.
The UN chief said Annabi was meeting with a Chinese delegation at the time of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake and all are still unaccounted for.
The secretary-general said he was sending Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond Mulet, who previously headed the Haiti mission, to Port au Prince "as soon as possible" to oversee the UN rescue operation and help manage the mission.
Helen Clark, head of the UN Development Program, said the building adjacent to its office collapsed and 38 of its staff members are unaccounted for.
Le Roy said the Hotel Montana, the main hotel where some UN staff were living, also collapsed.
Mulet said the UN headquarters building had been constructed in the 1960s with reinforced concrete, and was previously the Christopher Hotel.Reuse content