Port—Au—Prince Haitian police have detained a group of Americans on suspicion of trying to take children out of the country without proper papers amid the chaos following the January 12 earthquake.

The Americans were taken into custody yesterday with about 33 children while trying to reach the Dominican Republic, said Communications Minister Marie—Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue.

Sean Lankford told AP from Idaho that his wife and 18—year—old daughter were among 10 Americans detained.

Lankford, a member of the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho, said the group had intended to take the children to an orphanage they had set up at a hotel in the Dominican Republic. He says the group thought it had the proper paperwork.

Lankford says US officials yesterday were working to locate the 10 church members. He says Idaho friends and relatives have been in touch with those detained via text message and phone calls.

Haiti has imposed new controls on adoptions since the January 12 earthquake. The government now requires Prime Minister Max Bellerive to personally authorise the departure of any child as a way to prevent child trafficking.

Officials estimate that thousands of kids have been separated from their parents or orphaned by the earthquake.

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