Israel sends aid to Mexico after devastating earthquake claims 248 lives

A 50-member team of the IDF Search and Rescue Unit, together with a planeload of equipment, is on the way to Mexico on the eve of Rosh Hashana after an earthquake killed 248 people and caused extensive devastation. 

Police, firefighters and ordinary Mexicans dug frantically through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings early Wednesday, looking for survivors of Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in decades as the number of confirmed fatalities climbed to 248.

Adding poignancy and a touch of the surreal, Tuesday’s magnitude-7.1 quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands. Just hours earlier, people around Mexico had held earthquake drills to mark the date.

Israel has received a request for assistance following the severe earthquake in Mexico,

“Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered that assistance and a search and rescue operation be organized and leave for Mexico as soon as possible,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated. A 50-member team of the IDF Search and Rescue Unit, together with a planeload of equipment, departs early Wednesday afternoon.

Israeli humanitarian and emergency rescue teams are also at the scene. ZAKA, Israel’s primary rescue and recovery volunteer organization, for example, is already in the field, with hundreds of emergency ambulance-bikes, providing first aid.

“ZAKA Mexico volunteers are now in the disaster area and are taking part in the search to locate a Jewish resident who, according to reports, was in one of the collapsed buildings. In addition, the volunteers are helping local rescue forces deal with the bodies of the victims,” said ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief Officer Mati Goldstein.

“It is impossible to describe the scope of the disaster,” said ZAKA Mexico commander Marcus Cain. “Millions of people are without power, there is great confusion and distress. We are currently searching for a missing Jewish resident and helping the local rescue forces evacuate the bodies and locate and rescue survivors in the disaster area. ”

According to ZAKA Mexico volunteer Benjamin Shechnazi,“engineers have been dispatched to local synagogues to ensure that Rosh Hashanah services can safely take place.”

Jewish Community Collects Food for Those in Need

Arutz-7 reported that the synagogue was severely damaged, quoting World B’nei Akiva representative Shmuel Ben-Adiva, who was in Mexico City’s Jewish school when the earthquake struck.

“All of the phone lines collapsed and the Jewish community is beginning to collect food and supplies for those in need,” Ben-Adiva said.

“The Jewish schools are beginning to organize to aid the rest of the country. Tomorrow morning the Jewish schools will turn into temporary ‘war rooms’ to organize aid for all areas affected by the earthquake – and there were many of them,” he added.

By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.