UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. mission chief in Haiti, Hedi Annabi of Tunisia, died in Tuesday’s earthquake that devastated the country’s capital, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Saturday.
He was believed to be 65.
In a statement, Ban also confirmed the death of Annabi’s deputy, Brazilian Luiz Carlos da Costa, and of the acting U.N. police commissioner in Haiti, Doug Coates of Canada.
Ban gave no details of how the bodies of the three men had been found, but the world body said earlier this week they were under the rubble of the Hotel Christopher, the U.N. headquarters in Port-au-Prince, and could be alive or dead.
Haitian President Rene Preval said Wednesday that Annabi had died, but the United Nations said at the time it could not yet confirm that.
Annabi is the first U.N. mission chief to die in the line of duty since Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil was killed along with 14 other U.N. staff when a truck bomb exploded outside the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad in 2003.
Ban described Annabi as “the gold standard of service against which all who had the privilege to work with him were measured.” He hailed the Tunisian’s “unparalleled work ethic -- he was the first in and the last out every day for his entire career.”
After working in the Tunisian foreign service, Annabi joined the United Nations in 1981. For nearly a decade he worked on a political settlement in Cambodia before joining the U.N. peacekeeping department where he rose to be an assistant secretary-general. He had held the Haiti job since 2007.
Ban said of Annabi, da Costa and Coates that “in every sense of the word, they gave their lives for peace.”
By Friday, the U.N. death toll in Haiti had stood at 37. The deaths announced by Ban would raise that to at least 40, but U.N. official expect it ultimately to rise well over 100.
Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Alan Elsner