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Quake damage could be twice value of Haiti's annual output

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Damage from Haiti's catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake may be twice the value of the country's annual economy, Latin America's main development bank said Tuesday.

A report by three Inter-American Development Bank economists found it to be more devastating than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was for Indonesia, and five times deadlier than the 1972 earthquake that leveled Nicaragua's capital.

"It is the most destructive (natural disaster) a country has ever experienced when measured in terms of the number of people killed as a share of the country's population," the report says. The quake killed about one in every 50 Haitians.

Economists Eduardo Cavallo, Andrew Powell and Oscar Becerra estimated the magnitude 7 quake wrought damage worth between $8.1 billion and $13.9 billion.

Haiti produced only $7 billion worth of goods and services in 2008, the World Bank said.

"This is just an assessment of damage; it gives no indication of the amount of money to get the country back as if nothing had happened," Cavallo said.

adviser update: Jorge Puello, who provided food, medicine and legal assistance to the 10 Americans jailed on kidnapping charges and hoping to be released today, acknowledged in a phone interview with the Associated Press that he is named in a 2003 federal indictment out of Vermont that accuses him of smuggling illegal immigrants from Canada into the United States. The 32-year-old, identified as Jorge Torres in the indictment, was living in Canada at the time and managed to avoid arrest. He says he was working undercover for U.S. authorities. Law enforcement officials had not confirmed that Puello is Torres but said the case is open.

caught at sea: Eighty-eight nationals were returned to Cap Haitien, according to the Coast Guard, which said it found a "grossly overweighted" sail freighter about 4 p.m. Saturday 45 miles north of the country's Isle de Tortue. Last week, the Coast Guard said, it repatriated 78 Haitian nationals.

FLIGHTS TO RESUME: American Airlines says it will resume regular flights to Haiti Friday morning, the first commercial flights since the quake. Its first into Port-au-Prince will leave from Miami International Airport.

Information from McClatchy Newspapers was used in this report.

Quake damage could be twice value of Haiti's annual output 02/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 11:17pm]
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