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Report Questions Official Haiti Quake Death Toll

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A draft report commissioned by the U.S. government says far fewer people died or were left homeless following Haiti's January 2010 earthquake than had been previously reported.

News agencies, which obtained a copy of the document, say it estimates that the death toll was between 46,000 and 85,000 people, far below the Haitian government's figure of more than a quarter million people. The report also questions official United Nations figures that around 680,000 people remain homeless. There has been no comment from the government of new Haitian President Michel Martelly.

The report was prepared for the U.S. Agency for International Development, but has not yet been publicly released.

On Monday, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman told the Associated Press the report has inconsistencies and will not be made public until they are resolved.

The report was commissioned through a Washington-based consulting firm, LTL Strategies. The lead author, Timothy Schwartz, said in a blog post that no one should be surprised about a revised death toll. He said no one had any idea as to how many people were killed. The research for the document was conducted in January.

Last year, international donors pledged billions of dollars to help the Western Hemisphere's poorest country recover from the quake. Some donors have withheld aid until the new government can address the country's deep poverty, earthquake-shattered infrastructure and a cholera outbreak.

Reconstruction is estimated to take 10 years and cost $11.5 billion.

Article by VOA News