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ICRC sets up Haiti earthquake contact link

The Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has set up a special online link to help thousands of people within Haiti and abroad.

“The aim of the Family Links website is to accelerate the process of restoring contact between separated family members,” explained Robert Zimmerman, deputy head of the ICRC's Central Tracing Agency and Protection Division.

“At this stage, the website allows people in Haiti and abroad to register names of relatives... It will incorporate responses to queries as they become available.”

The website is managed by the ICRC, in cooperation with the tracing services of the Haitian National Red Cross Society and of other national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies throughout the world.

Although the information on the website can be posted by anyone and the ICRC says it can’t take responsibility for the accuracy of all of the content, the organisation said it was nevertheless a crucial tool for families and for clarifying the fate of those who have gone missing.

Meanwhile, a plane carrying 11 ICRC staff including two tracing experts has left Geneva and is expected to land in Port-au-Prince later on Thursday.

There is still no estimate on how many people were killed by Tuesday’s magnitude-7 quake. But Haitian President René Préval said the toll could be in the thousands.

The United Nations said 16 UN personnel were confirmed dead and 100-150 UN workers were still missing, and agencies

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