Report challenges Haiti earthquake death toll

A tent community set up in Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince after the devastating earthquake The draft report suggests many individuals still living in tent cities did not lose their homes in the quake

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Significantly fewer people died or were left homeless by last year's earthquake in Haiti than claimed by the country's leaders, a draft report commissioned by the US government has said.

The unpublished report puts the death toll between 46,000 and 85,000. Haiti's government says about 316,000 died.

It also suggests many of those still living in tent cities did not lose their homes in the disaster.

Haitian authorities have stood by their figures released last year.

The draft report, which has yet to be released publicly, is based on a survey commissioned by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and draws its numbers from door-to-door surveys carried out over 29 days in January 2011.

USAID Haiti Mission Director Carleene Dei told the BBC: "Any comment on the death toll of the tragic earthquake of January 2010 that affected so many is beyond the scope of the commission and purely reflects the views of the author."

Ms Dei added USAID tasked an outside organisation with assessing the "impact of rubble removal and structural assessment efforts on the return of Haitians to neighbourhoods" in order to improve upon its efforts.

But US State Department spokeswoman Preeti Shah told the Associated Press News Agency the report had inconsistencies and would not be released until they were resolved.

Analysts say the draft report, which USAID commissioned through the Washington consulting firm LTL Strategies, could challenge the premise of a multi-billion-dollar aid and reconstruction effort.

Disputed figures

The report also estimates that about 895,000 people moved into temporary settlement camps around the country's capital of Port-au-Prince and says that no more than 375,000 individuals are now still living in the tent communities.

Those figures conflict with the numbers provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has said 1.5 million people moved into the camps after the quake and that there are still 680,000 in settlement camps around the capital.

The report says there was significantly less rubble around the country's capital than previously thought, according to copies obtained by news agencies.

The number of those killed and displaced by the earthquake in Haiti prompted an outpouring of aid for the country, including a $5.5bn (£3.3bn) pledge during a UN donor conference last year.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the Caribbean nation on 12 January 2010.

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