ABOVE PHOTO: Haiti’s President Rene Preval, center, talks with the media upon his arrival at the international airport in Cancun, Mexico, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010. Preval was in Mexico to attend the Rio Group Summit Feb. 22-23.
(AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — The president of Haiti said last Sunday the death toll from his country’s earthquake could reach 300,000 once all the bodies are recovered from wrecked buildings.
Speaking after arriving in Mexico for regional meetings that will include discussion of Haitian aid needs, Haiti President Rene Preval gave no indication of how he reached the figure.
“You have seen the pictures, you know the numbers, more than 200,000 bodies picked up in the streets, counting those that are still underneath the rubble, perhaps we could arrive at 300,000 deaths,” Preval said at a meeting between Mexican officials and the countries of the Caribbean trade bloc.
Haiti’s government has placed the death toll at between 170,000 and 230,000. It depends on which official is talking and none have explained in detail the methodology used to arrive at the numbers.
The country’s chief epidemiologist has said he believes the government is making a lot of estimates.
Preval also attended the Unity Summit of Latin American and Caribbean nations convened by the Rio Group starting Monday. Aid for Haiti in the wake of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake is expected to be discussed.
Arriving last Sunday aboard a Mexican government plane, Preval thanked Mexico for all the aid it has sent to his country since the quake.
“I want to thank the Mexican people with all my heart,” he said.