Stories from the Haiti earthquake


Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 9:22 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 9:22 a.m.

US husband saves wife trapped in Haiti rubble

NEW YORK — A young American aid worker — trapped for about 10 hours under the rubble of her mission house that was destroyed in Haiti's earthquake — has been rescued by her husband.

Frank Thorp told CBS's "The Early Show" by phone from Haiti on Wednesday that he drove 100 miles to Port-au-Prince once he learned of the quake, and dug for over an hour to free his wife, Jillian, and her co-worker Charles Dietsch. The two were trapped under about a foot of concrete, he said.

"It was absolutely terrifying," Thorp said.

Thorp said he was in an area about 6 hours north of the capital when the temblor struck. He got a quick call from his wife telling him she was trapped, and that was all. So he began his long drive toward the devastation.

Arriving at the destroyed house, he said he saw his wife's hand from under the rubble and heard her tell him to keep it together and just get her out.

"We had to pull bricks and bricks and bricks and wood and doors and metal away for at least an hour before we were able to get her and her co-worker out," he said.

Thorp is the son of retired Rear Adm. Frank Thorp, who retired in August as the Navy's chief information officer.

The executive director of Haitian Ministries for the Diocese of Norwich, Conn., Emily Smack, told CBS a security guard at the mission house is still missing. A housecleaner had severe injuries and may lose both legs, she said.

Jillian Thorp's father, Clay Cook of Old Saybrook, Conn., describes his daughter and son-in-law as "a strong couple" who each had their own trial to endure.

"Jill was pinned in the rubble and Frank was driving through the darkness, not sure what was waiting for him at the end of the drive," he said.

The 7.0-magnitude tremor caused massive destruction in the Haitian capital. Untold numbers remain trapped, and the death toll has so far been impossible to calculate.

UN headquarters in Haiti collapsed in quake

UNITED NATIONS — The headquarters for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti collapsed in the massive earthquake, and France's foreign minister said Wednesday that everyone inside appears to have been killed, including the head of the country's U.N. mission.

At least seven peacekeepers were reported dead, and scores of others were injured or missing.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told two French radio stations that everyone in the U.N. building, including mission head Hedi Annabi, appears to have died in the earthquake. He said his information had come from the French ambassador in Haiti.

Kouchner said on RFI radio Wednesday that the ambassador had visited the devastated U.N. headquarters building in Port-au-Prince and said "everyone who was in the building is apparently dead," including Annabi, a Tunisian diplomat.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy earlier confirmed that Annabi was in the building at the time of the 7.0-magnitude quake.

U.N. troops, mostly from Brazil, were trying to rescue people from the wreckage of the five-story building, Le Roy told reporters, but "as we speak no one has been rescued from this main headquarters."

"There will be casualties, but we cannot give figures for the time being," Le Roy said.

Between 200 and 250 people normally work at the peacekeeping headquarters, located on the road from the city to the hillside district of Petionville, but it is unclear how many were in the building when the quake hit a little after 5 p.m. local time, deputy peacekeeping chief Edmond Mulet said.

At least four Brazilian soldiers were killed and five injured, Brazil's army said. 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.

Mulet, who was Annabi's predecessor in the Haiti post, said the U.N. headquarters building had been constructed in the 1960s with reinforced concrete, and was previously the Christopher Hotel.

Other U.N. installations in Haiti were also seriously damaged, Le Roy said, including the headquarters of the U.N. Development Program, where many people were wounded.

The U.N.'s entire Haitian mission includes 7,000 peacekeeping troops, 2,000 international police, 490 international civilian staffers, 1,200 local civilian staffers and 200 U.N. Volunteers, Le Roy said.

The force was brought in after a bloody 2004 rebellion following decades of violence and poverty in the nation.

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