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Saturday 20 September 2014

Irishman missing after UN building collapse

Family seeking news about father of three

Edel Kennedy and Paul Melia

Published 18/01/2010 | 05:00

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AN Irish citizen has been confirmed missing in the deadly Haiti earthquake.

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Andrew Grene had been serving in Haiti as an adviser to the head of the United Nations peacekeeping operation when the UN building in the capital, Port-au-Prince, collapsed.

The 44-year-old was in a meeting with Hedi Annabi, the chief of the UN in Haiti, and a high-ranking delegation from China when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck.

Mr Annabi's body was recovered from the rubble of the building on Saturday.

Mr Grene's family are desperately seeking information on his whereabouts. Yesterday, Andrew's twin brother Gregory, a musician, posted a message online.

"Seeking good news, please God, on my twin brother Andrew Grene, who works at MINUSTAH (the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti) and was in the meeting with Hedi Annabi, may he rest in peace, when the quake hit," he wrote.

Born in Chicago, Andrew grew up in Derrycark, Belturbet, Co Cavan, and went to school in the town.

Jessie Jones, who taught Andrew and Gregory in Fairgreen School, said they attended the school from March until the end of September each year when their father came to Ireland to run his farm.

"I knew Andrew had been working there but like everyone I was hoping and praying that he wasn't there when the earthquake struck," she said.

Andrew has dual citizenship, as does his twin brother. Another brother, Nicholas, is a lecturer in Trinity College and the family regularly returns to the family home in Belturbet.

Last night, John McDonald, chairman of Belturbet Town Council, said the entire local community was praying for the Grene family. "We're asking everyone for prayers and we're hoping for a successful outcome," he said.

His wife Jennifer -- who is from Co Down -- and their three children, Patrick, Alex and Rosemont, have posted details of Mr Grene on the Red Cross website, seeking information about him.

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Andrew's father, Professor David Grene, was born in Dublin and was an eminent translator of Greek tragedy and history. He was a founding member of the University of Chicago's legendary Committee on Social Thought.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin confirmed that the department had been in contact with the US State Department and was aiding the search for Mr Grene.

"We are helping the US State Department with the search of an individual who has Irish and US citizenship," the spokesman said. The department refused to comment any further about the nature of the search.

A UN official said aid workers were dealing with a disaster "like no other" in UN memory in Haiti because the country had been "decapitated".

Irish Independent

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