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January 18, 2010

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Peacekeepers' bodies flown home

THE bodies of eight Chinese police officers who died in the Haiti quake are expected to be brought home tomorrow morning on a chartered flight, China's Ministry of Public Security said late last night.

The Boeing 747 cargo plane, from China Southern Airlines, took off from Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince at 10:36pm yesterday Beijing time, after it had brought the first batch of humanitarian aid materials from China to Haiti.

It was expected to arrive in Beijing tomorrow morning, after stopovers at the Miami Airport and Anchorage International Airport.

Of the victims, four were officers of China's peacekeeping force in Haiti and the others were in a team sent by the Ministry of Public Security to Port-au-Prince for peacekeeping consultations.

All the bodies of the Chinese officers had been retrieved by early yesterday Beijing time, the ministry said.

The Chinese delegation had been in a meeting on Tuesday with UN envoy Hedi Annabi when the earthquake struck, toppling the five-story UN headquarters in the capital.

Annabi's body was also found in the debris. The Tunisian national was the special envoy of UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in Haiti and chief of the UN Stability Mission in the devastated Caribbean country.

The first Chinese officer was found at 4:30pm on Saturday, after more than 80 hours of search and rescue work, and the other seven were retrieved between 10:42pm and 3:56am yesterday.

The victims were named as Zhu Xiaoping, 48, director of the ministry's equipment and finance department; Guo Baoshan, 60, deputy director of the ministry's international cooperation department; and Wang Shulin, 58, and Li Xiaoming, 35, both researchers at the ministry. The four peacekeepers were Zhao Huayu, 38; Li Qin, 47; Zhong Jianqin, 35; and He Zhihong, 35, the only woman.

"The eight comrades who sacrificed their lives during the Haiti quake are outstanding representatives of the 2 million Chinese police force. They are the models for public security departments across the country to learn from," said a ministry statement.

Chinese rescuers also recovered the body of Brazilian Luiz Da Costa. The deputy special representative of the UN secretary-general in Haiti was found on Saturday.

The first batch of China's humanitarian aid, worth 13 million yuan (US$.9 million), included 1,000 tents, water, food, emergency lights, medicines, clothing and water purification equipment.

The aid was part of a 30 million yuan relief package announced by the Chinese government last Friday.


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