‘Every Israeli needs to know, we'll bring him home'

33 wounded land in Israel, three still in critical condition in Sofia hospitals.

The Burgas Airport in Bulgaria 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Burgas Airport in Bulgaria 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Thirty-three people wounded in Wednesday’s bus bombing at the Burgas airport in Bulgaria landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday, and were immediately transferred by ambulance to area hospitals.
The majority of the victims who returned on Thursday were lightly hurt, though two were in serious or critical condition.
Three victims who were critically wounded in the bombing were transferred to hospitals in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, and IDF Col. David Dagan is overseeing their treatment.
“Now our biggest concern is how and when to bring them back to Israel, which is not an easy question,” said Brig.-Gen.
Dr. Itzik Kreiss in a press conference Thursday afternoon at Ben-Gurion, after he accompanied the first flight of victims back to Israel. He said he expected the critically wounded victims would return to Israel within 24 hours and commended the Bulgarian medical services for fully cooperating with Israeli doctors.
One of the victims is in an army hospital, and the two others are in the Sofia hospitals.
“It’s not always nice to be Israeli, but this is a country that knows, within 24 hours, how to bring back all of her wounded and injured from every place in the world. It makes it a little easier,” said Kreiss, who accompanied the Thursday flight.
He said the wounds were consistent with other bus bombings, including broken limbs, cuts, burns, shrapnel wounds and multiple injuries.
He added that he had not seen any children under the age of 18, but could not confirm there were no children hurt.
Kreiss noted that some of the people’s mental states were fine, but some were less so.
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“Unfortunately, it’s the same mental state as we have seen in many instances that this has happened here,” he said.
According to Magen David Adom director Eli Bin, the scene at the Burgas Airport when MDA paramedics arrived around midnight Wednesday was “chaos,” and Israelis were milling around stunned and missing clothes and shoes.
Bin said the Israelis had refused to leave the airport terminal until Israeli authorities arrived, and there had been “thunderous applause” when the rescue teams from MDA and the army entered the building.
Many of the Israelis were offered flights back home on Bulgaria Air, but refused to come with any plane that was not Israeli, he said.
The victims who went back on the Thursday afternoon flight traveled as the MDA had found them in the terminal, with shoes and clothes missing. The MDA distributed clothes from the local Red Cross to some of the victims after they arrived. The wounded victims also returned without their luggage and without passports. Israel’s ambassador to Bulgaria signed that he recognized every victim so they could return home without documents.
Bin commended the cooperation with the local Red Cross and local authorities and said that Israeli rescue services had received all of the necessary permits immediately. He said there were only eight ambulances in the entire city of Burgas, so it was woefully unprepared to deal with such a large emergency.
Following the bombing, Israeli authorities have forbidden Israelis to walk around freely in the city, he added, saying they must have an armed escort when on the street. The hospital in Burgas was also under guard while Israeli victims were there.
The bodies of the five Israelis killed in the bombing were scheduled to leave Burgas after an official ceremony around 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
The bodies were immediately transferred to the L. Greenberg Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir upon arrival in Israel.
“Every Israeli needs to know that anywhere he is, in the most remote place, MDA, the army, and the Israeli government will bring them home,” Bin said.