Three Israeli rescue and medical teams are responding to the disastrous earthquake that hammered Nepal on Saturday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Deputy Spokesperson Alon Lavi told the Tazpit News Agency.
The MFA would be coordinating Israel’s efforts on the ground and liaise with the Nepalese government, Lavi said Sunday morning.
A six-man forward response team from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) was sent to Kathmandu early Sunday, to be followed by over 200 soldiers from the Home-Front Command.
The forward team will establish a triage post, while MFA officials and an IDF military attaché’ from India scout out a site for a field hospital.
The IDF response is reminiscent of the actions taken in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in January 2010. There, Israeli forces were first on the ground, treating over 1000 Haitians and delivering 16 babies in a similar triage and field hospital operation.
Along with soldiers to man the field hospital, the IDF will send a team from its elite Unit 669 Search and Rescue forces to help in the effort to find survivors in the Himalaya mountain range.
Hikers on Mt. Everest who survived quake-caused avalanches said they were running out of food and other supplies, according to news reports.
Some 250 Israeli nationals – many of them hikers in the popular destination’s mountainous regions – have yet to make contact with local or Israeli authorities. The IDF task force will make tracking them down a priority, Israeli officials said.
The second of the three missions to Nepal consists of a joint team consisting of Zaka, the largely ultra-Orthodox volunteer victim recovery organization among other Israeli aid organizations.
Zaka are renowned for their dedication in the task of collecting human remains, a particularly grisly task in the aftermath of suicide bombs and other terrorist attacks. The organization have participated in a number of international rescue operations, travelling to India, Haiti and Japan among other locations.
Motti Elimelech, team leader of the mission, told Tazpit he expected the group to treat a significant number of people who are dehydrated, due to contaminated water.