Rescuers describe 'Shabbat from hell'

Israeli field hospital treating dozens in Haiti; ZAKA rescues 8 students.

Thelarge field hospital established by the IDF Medical Corps at 10 a.m.Shabbat local time was already treating dozens of patients four hourslater, when its commander, Lt.-Col. Dr. Itzik Reiss, was able to take abreather and speak to Israeli health reporters via a conference call.
Childrenwith severe fractures set only with cardboard arrived at the hospitalfor treatment. Some young patients had been freed from rubble but hadto have limbs amputated due to severe gangrene, he said. Within a fewhours, operations were performed.
The hospital has an emergencyroom, pediatric, orthopedic, internal medicine, obstetrics and surgerydepartments, clinics and other facilities. The delivery room andpremature baby unit are prepared to function but have not yet receivedany women or infants.
The patients started arriving after a local hospital, unable to function normally, announced the IDF facility's existence.
TheIsraeli facility, set up in very hot and humid weather, has enoughequipment to function for about two weeks. The 121-member team has 40doctors, including a psychiatrist, 20 nurses, 20 paramedics and medics,20 lab and X-ray technicians and administrators.
Among the staffare Orthodox Jews who went to Haiti even though it was Shabbat. Reisssaid they avoided performing unnecessarily tasks like shaving, but dideverything needed to save lives. The military personnel are bothregular army and reserve soldiers.
It was not clear how manydesperate patients would reach the hospital over the coming days, hesaid. Reiss said he expected victims of infectious disease would startarriving soon.
Haitians were wandering aimlessly in the streets, Reiss said.
"It is very difficult. There is a bad feeling of destruction. It is very sad," he said.
Thefield hospital may continue operating under Israeli auspices aftergetting it restocked in two weeks, or it may be turned over to locals,he added.
Meanwhile, the ZAKA rescue and recovery contingentpulled eight students alive from the collapsed university building,after a 38 operation.
"You have to understand that the situationis true madness, and the more time passes, there are more and morebodies, in numbers that cannot be grasped. It is beyond comprehension,"said Mati Goldstein, the head of the delegation.
The six-manteam - four from Israel and two from Mexico - arrived in Haiti aboard aMexican Air Force Hercules cargo plane, immediately after completingtheir work in recovery and identification in the Mexico City helicoptercrash that killed philanthropist Moshe Saba and four others.
On arrival, the delegation was dispatched to the collapsed eight-story university building, from which cries could be heard.
Afterhours of work with rescue equipment provided by the Mexican military,the ZAKA volunteers succeeded in pulling the eight students out alive.
Ina disturbing e-mail that Goldstein managed to send to ZAKA headquartersin Jerusalem, he writes of the "Shabbat from hell. Everywhere, theacrid smell of bodies hangs in the air. It's just like the stories weare told of the Holocaust - thousands of bodies everywhere."
Amidthe stench and chaos, the ZAKA delegation took time out to reciteShabbat prayers - a surreal sight of haredi men wrapped in prayershawls standing on the collapsed buildings. Many locals sat quietly inthe rubble, staring at the men as they prayed facing Jerusalem.
At the end of the prayers, they crowded around the delegation and kissed the prayer shawls.
Dueto the breakdown in communications in Haiti, the ZAKA delegation wasunable to make contact before Shabbat with the IDF Home Front Commandcontingent that is now in the country.