The IDF sent a team of 130 troops to Brazil, where a dam collapsed causing massive flooding and killing at least 58 people, The Times of Israel reported Monday. The Israeli effort earned a thumbs up from Brazil’s newly-elected President Jair Bolsonaro on Twitter.
Officials in the Brazilian state of Minais Gerais reported that 58 people were confirmed dead with several hundred still unaccounted for.
The Israeli teams include not just medical personnel but also divers and search and rescue specialists.
The dam collapsed Friday. It was caused by an avalanche of iron ore waste from a mine.
The IDF troops arrived at the Belo Horizonte International Airport in South Western Brazil on Sunday night on a specially-chartered El Al flight. They were greeted by Romeu Zema, the governor of Minais Gerais. The Israeli delegation immediately met with the local officials coordinating the rescue efforts.
“Following a situational assessment and discussions with local officials, it emerged that search and rescue is the main need at the Brazilian disaster site,” a statement from the Israel Defense Forces said.
The IDF said that it would employ multiple technologies to locate missing people including radar, sonar, cellular detection systems, and drones.
The Israeli rescue mission was launched following a conversation between Bolsonaro and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday. Bolsonaro expressed his appreciation of the Israeli efforts by giving the IDF’s announcement a thumbs up on Twitter.
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) January 26, 2019
In a video of the preparations for the flight to Brazil, Col. Golan Vach of Israel’s Home Front Command said, “The soldiers with me new are part of the delegation and are preparing for the humanitarian delegation that is expected to depart in several hours to Brazil in order to save lives. Brazil is in need of aid. Israel will provide the best humanitarian aid possible that we are able.”
Ties between Israel and Brazil have improved markedly since the election of Bolsonaro late last year. In November, the newly-elected president reiterated his campaign promise to relocate his nation’s embassy to Jerusalem.
Ahead of Netanyahu’s arrival for his inauguration, Bolsonaro blasted critics of his outreach to Israel, saying, “There is no reason to criticize dialogue, especially when the criticism comes from those who did nothing, only destroyed and stole from the country.”
[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / YouTube ]