Israeli aid delegation lands in Brazil, with death toll at 58

About 300 still missing, a spokesman for firefighters in the country said, "The chances of finding living people coming down"

January 28, 2019 06:51
2 minute read.

Israeli rescuers arrive in Brazil to search for survivors of dam collapse, January 28, 2019 (Reuters)

Israeli rescuers arrive in Brazil to search for survivors of dam collapse, January 28, 2019 (Reuters)


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The IDF and ZAKA aid delegation to the disaster area of ​​the collapsed dam in Brazil, landed Sunday night in the country and is preparing to start searching for missing persons. During the night, Brazilian authorities reported that the death toll in the disaster area near the city of Belo Horizonte in the southeast of the country had risen to 58.

According to reports on local television channels, the number of fatalities is expected to continue to rise.

About 300 people are still missing, a spokesman for firefighters in the country said, "The chances of finding living people are going down."

The delegation took the El Al flight 777 on a 14.5-hour flight to the city of Belo Horizonte, close to the scene of the event. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri ordered the director of the ministry to urgently offer the Home Front Command to stock up the emergency warehouses, tents, generators, food rations, services and sleeping bags.

It was also reported that due to the characteristics of the disaster, it was decided that the Interior Ministry would assist with about 1,000 food rations and heating bags for the rescuers in the area.

"We will continue to act under the assumption that people can be rescued alive until we have recovered the last body," said Pedro Ihara, a spokesman for the country's fire department. "However, given the nature of the event, it is clear that as time passes, the chances of finding survivors is going down."

Hundreds of people are still displaced as classified as missing, unofficial sources say that the assumption is that most of them are dead.

Following the fear that another dam in the area would also collapse, thousands of people in nearby communities received orders to evacuate and rescue operations were temporarily halted.

"It was a terrible tragedy, and now we do not know what is about to come," Ihara said.

At first, the number of people who were supposed to be evacuated was 24,000, but later it fell to about 3,000.

As mentioned above, El Al Airlines took a special flight to Brazil yesterday, carrying about 130 members of the Home Front Command delegation to assist with rescue work in the area where a dam collapsed and caused massive mud landslides at the end of the week. Dozens of bodies have already been identified and an estimated 250-300 others are missing.

After the disaster, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Brazilian President Jair Boulsonaro and offered him Israel's help.

"ZAKA has extensive knowledge that has accumulated in many years of significant activity in dozens of disasters and attacks around the world, and with this experience we will be able to save lives and contribute a great deal to the locals in locating and rescuing victims. Our mission will focus on rescuing casualties, treatment of the wounded and the bodies of those killed."

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