Scene of building collapse in Tel Aviv's Ramat Hachayal neighborhood.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Rescue workers were busy evacuating rubble on Wednesday as three people remained trapped under a parking garage that collapsed two days earlier in Tel Aviv’s Ramat Hachayal neighborhood, their condition unknown.
As the search continued criticism has grown of the construction company managing the site and general work safety in Israel.
Rescue workers still believe that the missing may be found alive.
While the IDF Home Front Command believes it knows the general location of the missing, no contact has been made. Large amounts of rubble, concrete and sand still need to be excavated.
The three missing men are two residents of Acre and Muhammad Dawabsha, 29, from Duma, southeast of Nablus. The dead men are Oleg Yakibob, 60, from Tel Aviv, Denis Dyanchenko, 28, a Ukrainian national, and Ahad Alhaj, 34, from Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah.
Rafat Dawabsha, a cousin of Muhammad, spoke to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. “We are still waiting to hear news about Muhammed,” he said. “God is great and we hope to find out soon.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog visited the disaster site on Wednesday, where he was briefed by Home Front Command officers and offered a rebuke to what he termed a “culture of carelessness.”
“After we saw terrible accidents at the Versailles wedding hall [in Talpiot, Jerusalem, in 2001, where 23 were killed [and more than 300 were injured] when the building collapsed] and at the Maccabiah (pedestrian) Bridge [over the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv in 1997, where four were killed and 60 injured], a difficult thought arises that perhaps we still have not been cured of the culture of carelessness and ‘Everything will be fine,’” Herzog said.
Herzog called for a comprehensive investigation in order to prevent future disasters.
Hundreds of rescue workers including firefighters, Home Front Command soldiers and Magen David Adom personnel were urgently sifting through tons of rubble to find the missing, but the volume of debris along with thick concrete were making it a hard job.
Tons of dirt had been collected on the roof of the structure to build a garden and once the building collapsed the dirt became a large obstacle, Channel 2 reported.
The four-level underground parking garage was under construction when it collapsed on Monday for reasons that remain unclear. Three floors collapsed entirely, making it difficult to reach the three men thought to be on the bottom floor.
An initial report by the Economy Ministry safety administration revealed that the construction company building the lot, Danya Cebus, had a history of violations.
However, a June inspection of the site revealed no safety defects.
The company’s representative said it was committed to following the “stringent and rigorous” regulations in the sector, that it was cooperating with the investigation, and that protecting its workers was of paramount importance to it.
There have been 32 construction- related deaths and 155 injuries in 2016, including from the Ramat Hachayal collapse, according to data gathered by Yediot Aharonot and the Coalition Against Building Accidents. Construction accidents largely effect Arab Israelis and Palestinians, the data show. In 2015, 38 workers were killed, and among them 75 percent were Arab Israelis or Palestinians; 20% were foreign workers from China, Eastern Europe or Turkey; and around 5% were Jews.
From 2011 to 2016, 21 indictments were filed dealing with accidents in the construction industry.
Niv Ellis contributed to this report.
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