Zimbabwean woman Survives Haiti Quake

Mrs Hatendi who works for the United Nations in the Caribbean country and another individual were the only survivors.

The other survivor’s identity and nationality were not disclosed and it is still unclear if he/she also worked for the UN.

Mrs Hatendi’s three children, who are in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, also survived the earthquake that measured 7,0 on the Richter scale.

Her good fortune went even further as her Port-au-Prince house also survived the earthquake that left the capital a pile of rubble and littered with bodies.

By yesterday, 70 000 people had been confirmed dead across the island, while projections are that the death toll could reach 200 000.

According to news agencies, as of yesterday, only 70 survivors had been rescued from the rubble of the earthquake.

Details of Mrs Hatendi’s survival emerged on Sunday at the Trinity Methodist Church in Harare when her maternal uncle, Mr John Mapondera, told the congregation about her escape.

In an interview yesterday, her mother  Mrs Esneth Mapondera-Mwendapole attributed her daughter’s survival to the "power of God".

She said she received the news about the earthquake from her brother, Mr Chris Mapondera, as she was about to go to church to give a speech at the memorial service of a fellow parishioner.

"I knew God had protected her because of the good work she does. I also knew God had protected her house and children," she said.

She continued with her church mission even though she was not sure of her daughter’s fate.

"I was determined to give the testimony because I believed God had protected her. I gathered sufficient strength and went to the church. You should have been there to hear what I said," she said.

Later, she was told Mrs Hatendi had survived and immediately knelt and thanked God for saving her daughter.

"When I heard she was alive, I knelt and prayed to God. Even to this day I still thank him," she said.

Mrs Hatendi joined the United Nations in 1984 as a bilingual secretary and rose through the ranks.

A UN official in Harare yesterday said his office had lost contact with their Haitian headquarters after the building collapsed.

He referred all questions to their contact person on the Haiti disaster, Ms Paulina Kubiak, who was also not in a position to give further details on this particular case.

"At this time, the United Nations is not releasing the names or nationalities of the victims or survivors," she said.

UN spokesperson Ms Elisabeth Brys said 43 teams with 161 dogs and high tech equipment had been deployed to sniff through the rubble for survivors.

Comparing it to the tsunami that struck Asia in 2004, UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon has described the Haiti earthquake as the worst in decades.

Tens of thousands of bodies have been buried in mass graves, while just as many have been cremated en masse as the country fails to cope with the rising death toll.

Haiti, the world’s first independent black republic, is often the victim of natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.