After Deadly Quake, Israel Sends Rescue Teams to Mexico

An IDF delegation of 50 soldiers from the Home Front Command is departing for Mexico on Wednesday to aid in the earthquake relief efforts, an army spokesperson said.

The Times of Israel reported that the IDF personnel will help evaluate the damage in the disaster zone, after a large earthquake devastated portions of the country. The delegation includes search and rescue and other military personnel. No field hospital is currently being set up, but an IDF spokesperson said such step might be taken in the future.

At least 248 people were killed when a powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.1 on Richter scale struck Mexico on Tuesday, causing serious damage to property. The casualties included at least 21 children, who were crushed beneath an elementary school that was reduced to rubble.

On Tuesday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office offered condolences and confirmed Israel had responded to a request for aid from the Mexican government. “Netanyahu ordered that aid and a search and rescue operation be organized to leave to Mexico as soon as possible,” his office said.

The Israeli delegation is led by Dudi Mizrahi, the head of the IDF’s search and rescue unit, who will also supervise the engineers on the team. “They will help surveying buildings. Which structure can people go into, which structures need to be torn down,” an army spokesperson said.

Israel is often among the first countries to send aid and trained personnel to disaster zones hit by natural catastrophes. In 1999, the country provided rescue and medical services after an earthquake struck Turkey and responded to an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a typhoon in the Philippines in 2013 and, most recently, an earthquake in Nepal in 2015.

Last week during his historic trip to Latin American, Netanyahu met Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The two leaders signed cooperation agreements in a number of fields including aviation, international development and space research.

The United Nations’ World Health Organization last year recognized Israel for having the world’s best field hospital.

[Photo: Israel en México / Facebook]