The Israel Defense Forces’ search and rescue delegation to southern Turkey has so far rescued 19 people trapped under the rubble during last week’s deadly earthquake in the region, the IDF has confirmed.
On the first day of search and rescue operations, the IDF notes, the delegation rescued eight civilians, the youngest of whom is two years old. On the second day, it rescued another nine people, and on the third day two more children.
The search and rescue team is being aided by the army’s Unit 9900 speciality mapping team, which has mapped some 600 buildings at the earthquake zone and created some 300 models to assist the team in the field.
The 150-person Home Front Command search and rescue team has been working in the earthquake zone since Tuesday. It is part of the “Olive Branches” humanitarian aid delegation, which also includes a 230-person medical personnel treating the wounded at a field hospital.
According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, over 200 people have been treated in the field hospital, including a dozen who were admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit.
The field hospital, which is operating out of a local hospital abandoned during the quake, was established last Wednesday. The hospital is comprised of operating rooms, trauma units and laboratories and is operated by a team of trauma specialists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, orthopedic doctors, pediatricians, intensive care specialists and emergency medicine doctors.
The medical delegation brought with it to Turkey 17 tons of medical equipment, as well as an additional 10 tons of logistical and administrative equipment, the army noted.
The IDF delegation is led by the Home Front Command and the Medical Corps and consists of representatives from the Defense Ministry, Magen David Adom, the Fire and Rescue Authority, the Health Ministry, the ZAKA International Rescue Unit and additional bodies.
Israeli civilian aid organizations are also on the ground. One of them, SmartAID, is operating a search and rescue team in the earthquake zone, and also partnered up with Israeli food security bank Latet to deliver pallets of food items, hygiene kits, blankets and warm clothes donated by Israeli corporations.
Meanwhile, Israeli emergency service United Hatzalah announced that its search and rescue team will be leaving Turkey early due to a significant security threat.
“We knew that there was a certain level of risk in sending our team to this area of Turkey, which is close to the Syrian border but we took the necessary steps in order to mitigate the threat for the sake of our lifesaving mission,” says United Hatzalah Vice President of Operations Dov Maisel. “Unfortunately, we have just received intelligence of a concrete and immediate threat on the Israeli delegation and we have to put the security of our personnel first.”
The death toll from last Monday’s earthquake now stands at more than 28,000. Turkish authorities confirmed on Saturday night that approximately 25,000 people have died in the country, while in nearby Syria a reported 3,500 people were killed in the deadly quake. Thousands more people are still missing under the rubble.