Israelis rescue 10 Turks, including toddler, under earthquake’s rubble

Israel’s 150-strong rescue force is larger than many other countries’ delegations combined, said one team member.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Israeli search-and-rescue teams sent to Turkey Tuesday to find victims of the massive earthquake that hit the country have so far rescued ten people alive in the rubble, the IDF said Thursday.

The large “Olive Branches” delegation has been working around the clock, knowing that it has only a few days at most to find living people rather than dead bodies due to the intense cold and medical conditions of anyone trapped under flattened buildings.

Captain (res.) Alon Hominer told Walla News Thursday morning that his group had just successfully freed a toddler from the wreckage.

“A short while ago, we completed the rescue of a small child about two years of age, it took several hours,” he said. “We received a report from the Turks that they had heard a baby’s cries and joined the mission to fully cooperate with them. The rescue entailed a great deal of medical and engineering efforts. The baby is currently healthy and whole and on his way to the hospital.”

Interviewed on Radio 103 FM, Lt. Col. Doron Ziv of the IDF Homefront Command said that Israel’s delegation is one of the largest in the devastated region.

“There are a few dozen delegations, but most consist of between eight and fourteen people, along with a few dogs,” Ziv said. “Our delegation stands out with regard to its scope and makeup. We have 150 rescue workers, and now a field hospital is being set up, and that’s really a game changer. The amount of personnel Israel sent is equivalent to many of the other overseas delegations combined.”

Israel has sent tons of medical equipment, water, blankets and other supplies along with the search-and-rescue teams and over 200 medical personnel to staff its field hospital.

When asked if the locals knew where they’re from, he replied, “Everyone asks where we’re from, and we proudly tell them that we’re from Israel. The display of love and respect we see is outstanding; everyone thanks us from the bottom of their hearts.  I think that our delegation managed to warm the locals’ hearts toward Israel.”

Ziv said the delegation would stay “as long as we can to save lives and help the survivors.”

“Last night was immensely challenging, just like the night before. Regarding the weather, it was really tough, but our motivation is through the roof, the adrenaline is flowing, and we’re giving it all we’ve got to save lives in the final hours remaining,” he added, noting that the “window of opportunity” was only two or three days to find people alive, although there have been miraculous exceptions.

In the city of Antakya, the tiny Jewish community received news it had been dreading when the bodies of their leader and his wife, Saul and Fortuna Cenudioglu, were found after a three-day search. The Zaka organization, that has been working in the area as part of the civilian Israeli rescue efforts, said in a statement that people had “worked intensively for many hours under difficult conditions until the two were located.”

Ankara has declared a state of emergency and is in the middle of an official week of mourning following the massive earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale and its severe aftershocks that hit Turkey’s south and Syria’s north early Monday morning. Over 16,000 are confirmed dead in the two countries, with over 20,000 injured.