The death toll from Monday’s construction collapse in Tel Aviv’s Ramat Hachayal neighborhood rose to three on Tuesday as search and rescue workers found another body under the rubble.
The identity of the third fatality, who was evacuated from the site around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, has not been officially released. The other two have been identified as a Ukrainian foreign worker, and Ahad Rimawi, 34, from Beit Rima in the West Bank. Among those trapped in the debris are two residents of Acre and Muhammad Dawabsheh, 29, of Duma, a relative of the family killed last year in an arson attack by suspected Jewish extremists.
Firefighters, Home Front Command and Magen David Adom workers have been operating non-stop at the scene, urgently sifting through tons of rubble to find the missing, but the amount of debris along with thick concrete are proving to be impediments for search and rescue workers.
The HFC has been using a new hi-tech search and rescue system that uses the cellular devices of trapped people to track their locations in the rubble.
Col. Ariel Blitz, head of the Home Front Command’s Population Preparedness Department, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the geolocation technology was essential to locating the missing persons.
“We’ve been using the cellphone technology to locate them in combination with search and rescue and dogs,” Blitz said. “We are still working very hard, and we are optimistic about the situation.”
The system, RES-Q-Cell, made by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), was first unveiled in June, and is designed to enable the fastest possible geolocation of survivors.
The system activates all cellular phones in a disaster area, before carrying out quick identification and location of individual devices.
According to IAI, RES-Q-CELL differentiates between those who are trapped in ruins and those who are not, generating a “highly accurate three dimensional” location map of survivors.
The Home Front Command used the system on Monday for the first time in a real emergency incident to locate trapped construction workers, enabling it to focus more of its time on rescue and extraction operations and less time on physical searches.
The system is “operated from a laptop, and is designed to keep working even when cellular networks collapse,” IAI said at the time of its unveiling.
The police have commenced an investigation regarding the cause of the collapse but issued a gag order on the probe.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site on Monday evening and praised the mobilized search teams.
“Rescue efforts are being handled professionally and as quickly as possible to find any of the trapped persons,” Netanyahu said. “This is a massive effort, very professional and challenging, and we wish all the injured a speedy recovery.”
Joint List MK Ayman Odeh said during a televised visit to victims at Ichilov Hospital on Monday that the incident demands a wider, state-wide investigation into the conditions of construction workers, many of whom are Palestinian or Arab-Israeli.
“We need to establish a commission of inquiry into the phenomenon of construction accidents in recent years,” said Odeh.
“Since the beginning of the year, 32 construction workers have been killed.”
On Monday, Kulanu MK and chairman of the Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee Eli Alaluf called the collapse a preventable tragedy.