Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will declare a national day of mourning to mark a massive northern Israel blaze that claimed at least 40 lives.
The PM made the remarks during his visit at the command post set up at University of Haifa Thursday following the Carmel fire disaster.
"I shall declare it a national day of mourning but right now we haven't got the time to mourn and get into inquiries," he said.
"People have showed tremendous strength of spirit, divine heroism, and sacrificed themselves to save others," Netanyahu said. "I want to say to the families that are discovering their own personal disasters, we support you and love you. To our Druze brothers – I know you suffered a major blow."
The prime minister noted that 10 fire extinguishing planes are scheduled to arrive in Israel in the coming hours from Cyprus, Greece and Spain and later on possibly also from Italy and Russia. He said that the aircraft cannot be used at night and that the efforts to contain the blaze will take more time.
The cabinet will be convened on Friday to decide on the government's course of action.
Earlier Thursday, Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen issued orders which included evacuating residential areas in jeopardy, sealing off the fire site, forming a team to investigate the incident and setting up a unified command post headed by the police.
IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi also visited the command post.
"We are providing all the assistance we can as the battle continues," he said. "There are RPVs and helicopters in the air as well as soldiers on the ground. This is a disaster on a massive scale and we are helping the Prison Service where we can."
Earlier on Thursday, some 40 Prison Service course cadets were burned to death as they headed to evacuate the Damon Prison. Several police officers were injured including Haifa Police Chief Ahuva Tomer who is fighting for her life at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report
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