The IDF Search and Rescue Brigade has rescued 10 Turkish citizens as of Thursday as part of Operation Olive Branch in response to the disastrous earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria.
The IDF has thus far sent 15 aircraft filled with hundreds of tons of medical and other supplies, along with a 150-person rescue team and a 230-person medical field hospital team.
Wednesday had already seen some heart-warming moments as riveting videos came out showing IDF rescue workers extricating Turkish citizens who were trapped in collapsed buildings and otherwise facing near-certain death, but there were new rescue stories on Thursday.
A statement said that the IDF had saved a 26-year-old woman who was trapped in a collapsed residence.
Further, a video showed about a dozen rescue workers performing different activities to extricate her.
On Wednesday, IDF Col. Golan Voch told Israeli media representatives that the next two days or so past the 72-hour point since the earthquake hit would be critical for finding other survivors.
Who was rescued on Wednesday?
In one incident, IDF rescuers found a two-year-old boy under the rubble of a collapsed structure.
A member of the IDF rescue team, Capt. Alon Hominer, said the engineering operation lasted several hours.
He said the IDF had received information from Turkey “that there were sounds of a baby crying, and we joined the mission.” Hominer said they had expended “great medical and engineering efforts” to save the boy.
Overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, the IDF rescue team located a shaft from a building that had completely collapsed. The rescuers crawled through the shaft and heard voices calling out for help.
Eventually, the rescuers were able to discern that there was a 12-year-old boy stuck alone, after four of his family members had been tragically killed in the same room where he remained.
After four-and-a-half hours, they were able to save the boy.
An IDF official said bringing him through the shaft was like the boy being reborn.
Also overnight on Tuesday, the rescue mission was able to save a 23-year-old woman who had been trapped underneath the rubble since Monday morning, Maj. (res.) Matan Schneider recounted.
The mission to rescue the woman also took around four-and-a-half hours from start to finish and was conducted after the team heard noises coming from beneath rubble on the side of the road on which they were traveling.
“The woman emerged healthy and whole, with only a fractured pelvis,” Schneider said in a recorded statement. “She was evacuated and has returned to her fiancé.”
A video of the rescue mission, with the face of the woman obscured, was subsequently shared by the IDF.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochav said the rescue operations were proceeding at full-throttle despite extremely difficult, inclement weather conditions, including emergency regulations to ensure soldier-rescuers avoid harm as a result of the cold weather.
Col. Voch said, “The delegation has 150 rescuers and is also building a field hospital. We are in the early days of searching to find and rescue people who are trapped. We did this very successfully so far.
He added, “We have already saved four people and are already working on saving a fifth person. There is also a possible chance to save a sixth person. This is a high level of success compared to how much time we have had to work.”
He said that 10 other countries have sent delegations, but that Israel’s preparedness and effectiveness is among the highest level. To date, he said that only Azerbaijan has sent a larger delegation, with 400 personnel to assist.
Voch said, “We will go over 420 personnel soon. All Israeli citizens can be proud. The speed with which we got to the field has been impressive and we hope we will continue with success going forward.”
Asked if there will be little hope to find more survivors soon, given that the 72-hour point will be crossed soon, the colonel said, “All the time we are finding more people. In the past, we have found [survivors] even after 100 hours. Some buildings have maintained some heat, and some survivors have other items to stay warm.”
He said they will not give up for five to six days, and that the rescuers expect to stay in Turkey for nine-14 days.
The medical delegation is being led by IDF Col. Elad Edri and includes a mix of doctors, nurses and paramedics, including some from the Health Ministry.
A statement indicated that all members of the delegation would receive the appropriate vaccinations for avoiding transmitting or contracting diseases globally.
Members of the medical delegation are expected to remain in Turkey longer than the search and rescue team, Voch said.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.