IDF delegation in Port-au-Prince
Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office
Medical treatment on the street
PORT-AU-PRINCE – The Israeli delegation to Haiti has managed to rescue a survivor trapped under the rubble, four days after a strong earthquake rocked the country.
The Home Front Command team was called Saturday evening to rescue a man from the Tax Authority building in the capital Port-au-Prince. After more than seven hours, the force managed to reach the survivor, who had spent 120 hours under the rubble.
The survivor was Gilles, 58, a Tax Authority worker who sent a text message with a sign of life from his cellular phone. The rescue forces dispatched to the area found equipment believed to be left behind by another rescue team, which left after failing to locate the survivor.
The Israeli team members were forced to break down a wall separating them from Gilles, but still found it difficult to reach him as iron pipes had collapsed in the area and pinned him to the floor, while concrete logs pressed the lower part of his body.
Major Zohar Moshe, the rescue force's commander, explained that the team began attending to the survivor before he was completely removed from under the rubble. "The moment we managed to break the wall, we began treating him while continuing the rescue efforts," he said. After many efforts, the rescuers managed to attach an infusion to his body.
Amit Even Paz, one of the rescuers, managed to reach Gilles, talk to him and remove all the rubble covering him.
"We spoke to him all the time, told him not to despair. Towards the end he became drowsy, mumbling nonsense. We vowed to get him out of there alive," said Lieutenant Ilan Barel, a member of the Israeli delegation.
"Gilles has a 20-year-old daughter and a wife. They both live in Connecticut and still think he is under the rubble. When he was removed on a stretcher, exhausted and covered with dust, the residents outside clapped their hands and shouted, 'We love Israel,'" added Major Moshe.
Attending to earthquake survivors (Photo: AP)
The stench in the rescue site is unbearable, as there are many bodies buried under the rubble. Before arriving at the Tax Authority building, the Home Front Command team searched for survivors in a nearby factory and hotel, but to no avail.
The field hospital set up in no time by the Israeli delegation is working in full speed. "We have already conducted two operations. These are life-saving procedures," said Colonel Itzik Kreis, the field hospital's commander, in a phone call from Haiti.
According to Colonel Kreis, the hospital was set up within eight hours, instead of 20 as planned. In its first fours hours, the team treated 55 people, some of whom have already been released.
A delegation of five Magen David Adom paramedics will travel to Haiti on Sunday and join the Norwegian Red Cross team. The MDA crew is expected to stay in the country for three weeks, and additional experts will be sent out later on.