Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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13 Elul 5759 - August 25, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Israel to Rebuild Part of Quake Area; Israeli Team Rescues 12

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The Israeli rescue teams are to return from Turkey on Tuesday, as Israel offered to rehabilitate part of the area damaged by the earthquake. The field hospital set up by the Israeli Army will operate for some time longer, since there is a serious danger of epidemics and other medical problems in the wake of the natural disaster.

The IDF teams rescued 12 survivors and uncovered 146 bodies at three sites since they arrived there last Wednesday. They also retrieved the bodies of 11 Israelis. Most of their efforts were focused in Cinarcik and Yalova, where the Israelis had been vacationing.

The death toll continues to rise, as workers dig deeper. After a week, the chances of finding living survivors is very slim. Many of the foreign rescue teams already left when hope for finding survivors dimmed, leaving the Turks themselves to clean up.

Turkish authorities are now estimating that some 40,000 perished. However, this is not a final number and the final count may be even higher.

There was high drama as the Israeli rescue team saved a 9- year-old Israeli girl, Shiran Franco, who had been trapped for four days beneath rubble. Her twin brother, father and grandparents perished in the quake. Only her mother Iris survived, rescued after 36 hours. The family had been on vacation when the disaster struck. The levayas were held on Monday, though Shiran did not participate as she had not yet been told of the deaths. She is, however, expected to participate in the shiva. Initially she had no recollection of having traveled to Turkey nor any memory of the earthquake or the ordeal she endured while trapped for some three days. Doctors and social workers expect to break the news to her gently, though they say that it is important for her to grieve properly. Her physical condition was generally described as good.

The rescue team sent by Israel is part of the Home Front Command (Pikud Ha'Oref) that was set up after the Gulf War. This division of the Army is focused on the things that are necessary to ensure the safety of the civilian population in time of war. The experience of the Gulf War taught that this was a task that no one was really responsible for carrying out, and the Home Front Command was set up as a result. It specializes in planning and preparation for managing and caring for the civilian population in time of war -- a time that is similar to a large disaster. Thus, its expertise is welcome and appropriate to help out in unfortunate situations such as the severe earthquake that struck Turkey.

Monday afternoon, six days after the earthquake, Israeli team members also pulled out a three-year-old Turkish boy from beneath the ruins. The boy was detected in the town of Cinarcik by a Turkish rescue team, which called the IDF to rescue him.

The boy, Ismail Cimen, whose father and three sisters were killed in the quake, spent more than six days alone in a dark nook under a collapsed balcony. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

Another Turkish child was also found alive and rescued by Turks in the nearby town of Yalova after spending 172 hours buried by the rubble.

In Cinarcik, the IDF rescue teams and army doctors held a memorial service for the 11 Israelis and tens of thousands of Turks who perished. After the ceremony, the rescue unit made its way back to the stricken city of Golcuk, where rescue operations were being completed at a major naval base.

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