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Family's relief at 'miraculous' escape of Irish worker

THE family of an Irishman who had a "miracle" escape in the Haiti earthquake last night spoke of their relief.

"I could hear him say he was safe, he was uninjured and 'I love you'," said Paddy Doyle's sister Karen yesterday after listening to an early morning voice message he left on her phone.

Paddy (29), who is from Waterford city, had just returned to Haiti in recent days after a break at home for the Christmas season.

He has lived and worked in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, for over three years. He is employed by Irish company Taxback.com as the manager of its Haiti operation, based in tycoon Denis O'Brien's Digicel headquarters.

That building was one of the few in the city's business district to survive the worst effects of Tuesday night's devastating earthquake.

Paddy was just finishing work when the earthquake hit, but escaped unharmed.

"It's kind of amazing, it's quite a miracle (that the building remained intact) when you think that it's so central," his sister Karen told the Irish Independent.

She said there were a few moments of panic when she woke up yesterday morning until she heard a voice message on her phone from her brother.

"He had actually called at about a quarter to five, our time, and I had missed his call and had a voice message. I only noticed the missed call and voice mail around the same time I realised what had happened."

She then broke the good news to parents Pat and Mary-Anne in Waterford's Dunmore Road who woke up alarmed to hear breaking news of the quake.

"I know my mum wants nothing more right now than to hear his voice on the other end of the phone," Karen said.

The family spent the day trying to contact Paddy to speak to him directly, but to no avail.

"Obviously at this time, we are anxious to hear from him again but with phone networks and communications down, we probably won't for a while," Karen added.

Irish Independent