Haiti quake: Israeli feared missing
Relatives of Sharona Elsaieh, daughter of late peace activist Abie Nathan, say unable to contact Elsaieh, who lives in Caribbean country struck by devastating earthquake Tuesday. Meanwhile, Israeli envoy in Dominican Republic says has no knowledge of Israelis visiting Haiti
Waiting for sign of life: Several Israelis live in Haiti, the impoverished Caribbean nation that suffered a massive earthquake Tuesday, in which thousands are believed to be buried under the rubble.
One of those Israelis living in Haiti is Sharona Elsaieh, daughter of the late peace activists Abie Nathan. Elsaieh's family in Israel has not been able to reach her, and has approached the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
Dorly Schwarz, Elsaieh's cousin, said she has been trying to contact her, but this has not been possible sine the telephone lines in Haiti have collapsed. "I spoke with the situation room in the Foreign Minsitry and they said they would contact me the moment they get any information," Schwarz told Ynet.
Sharona Elsaieh has been residing in Haiti with her husband for several years now. One of her children lives in Israel, and three others reside in the United States.
The last time Elsaieh made contact was one month ago, and now, her family is desperate to get any piece of information that would help them learn of Elsaieh's condition.
"We tried to call, but the lines collapsed. We couldn't reach her daughter in the US and her son works nights, so we couldn't get a hold of him this morning and I don't even know if he's heard about the earthquake."
Israel's Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Amos Radian, who is also responsible for Israeli affairs in Haiti, told Ynet earlier that he has no knowledge of any Israelis currently visiting the country.
Radian also noted that Israelis do not tend to visit Haiti. He added that there were no casualties in the Dominican Republic, where the quake was also felt.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that an initial inspection team of eight experts was sent to Haiti. The team includes Foreign Ministry and Central Command experts.
The team will examine whether there is a need to send larger rescue teams or aid crews to the Caribbean nation.
Chief Medical Officer Brigadier-General Dr. Nachman Esh said the medical corps was preparing to send medical aid to Haiti. "We have yet to receive a request from the Foreign Ministry, but we are making internal arrangements in order to be able to leave as quickly as possible," he said.
"I believe that within 24 hours from being contacted, we will be able to send teams and medical equipment," he added.
In 2003 the IDF sent a filed hospital to aid the victims of an earthquake in India.
'Haiti needs to pray'
A powerful 7.0-magnitude quake struck at 4:53 pm Tuesday, centered 10 miles (15 kilometers) west of Port-au-Prince at a depth of 5 miles (8 kilometers), the US Geological Survey said.
USGS geophysicist Kristin Marano called it the strongest earthquake since 1770 in what is now Haiti. In 1946, a magnitude-8.1 quake struck the Dominican Republic and also shook Haiti, producing a tsunami that killed 1,790 people.
The scope of the disaster remained unclear, and even a rough estimate of the number of casualties was impossible. But it was clear from a tour of the capital that tens of thousands of people had lost their homes and that many had perished.
"The hospitals cannot handle all these victims," said Louis-Gerard Gilles, a doctor and former senator, as he helped survivors. "Haiti needs to pray. We all need to pray together."
UN peacekeepers, most of whom are from Brazil, were trying to rescue survivors from their collapsed five-story headquarters, but UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said late Tuesday that "as we speak no one has been rescued."
"We know there will be casualties but we cannot give figures for the time being," he said.
Haiti's National Palace crumbled into itself, but Haiti's ambassador to Mexico Robert Manuel said President Rene Preval and his wife survived the earthquake. He had no details.
The Associated Press, Hanan Greenberg and Meital Yasur - Beit Or contributed to this report
Initial information received via Red Email