“Time is not on our side,” said Home Front Command chief for the Metropolitan Tel Aviv District Colonel Amir Ulu, who described the challenges facing hundreds of rescue workers at the collapsed building where three have died—the third victim discovered Tuesday morning—and 23 injured so far. On Monday night the rescuers lost contact with two victims who until then could be heard from under the layers of dirt and destruction. “The more time passes, the more problematic it becomes to find living victims, although in the past we’ve rescued collapse victims after 30 hours,” Ulu said.
As dark was setting at the collapsed, 4-story parking garage under construction in Ramat HaKhayal in north Tel Aviv, the rescue teams mapped the construction site, but the dimensions and sheer mass of the detritus and debris posed a significant difficulty. “It can take us hours to reach each one of the mapped areas,” Yonatan Raz, Ulu’s deputy, told Walla. “But the command’s decision is that we’re not leaving. We have the capacity to remain here for 48 hours, with the hope of finding trapped victims who are still alive.”
The rescuers believe there are four more people under the collapsed structure. Overnight the site was flooded with high voltage lights and shifts were changed frequently, to maintain the workers’ alertness. The rescuers are fearing additional collapses in two spots, which they continue to monitor. “The structure has stopped moving, which is good news,” Ulu said Tuesday morning.
Ulu related that only a week ago, commanders from the Home Front Corp, Police and MDA underwent a course intended to regulate communications between them in the event of a major disaster, “And here we are, applying what we’ve learned, unfortunately,” Ulu concluded.David Israel