August 19, 2003 - Posted at: 1:27 p.m. CDT
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Today's bombing attack in the Iraqi capital has claimed the life of a top United Nations official.
The top UN envoy to Iraq was among those killed in the explosion, which ripped through the Baghdad hotel that houses UN headquarters.
Sergio Viera de Mello had been trapped in the rubble of his office in the hotel. Initial reports indicated the 55-year-old Brazilian was conscious immediately after the blast, and that rescuers were giving him water.
The envoy began a four-month assignment in Baghdad in June and had said his mission was "to make sure that the interests of the Iraqi people come first."
The UN flag at headquarters in New York has been lowered to half-staff.