'I hope it ends soon.' Fire site
Photo: Hagai Aharon
Burnt bus
Photo: George Ginsburg
IDF planes assisting in efforts
Photo: Hagai Aharon
IDF joins firefighting efforts in north
Hundreds of soldiers from various IDF units deployed in Carmel region in effort to battle fire

Hundreds of IDF soldiers have been deployed in northern Israel following the Carmel fire disaster in an effort to battle the flames and assist rescue operations.


The army deployed sent firefighting trucks from Air Force bases as well as water tanks, cranes, trucks and buses.


In addition, an Air Force drone is providing the fire command post set up at University of Haifa with images from the field while a plane is illuminating the area.


Meanwhile, the Air Force's meteorological unit is assisting in weather forecasting.


However, the IAF cannot contribute its aircraft to the effort to extinguish the fire due to a decision made 10 years ago following damage caused to planes.


IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi attended a status evaluation meeting on Thursday presided by Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch.


The Home Front Command's rescue battalion commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Golan Vach, said that his soldiers have been evacuating residents of Tirat Carmel late Thursday.


"All the mountain tops appear to be smoke-laden from here," he said. "We are assisting citizens and particularly weaker population groups to reach buses and from there to safe locations. There are still some curious onlookers who come here and endanger their lives."


'We'll do whatever it takes'

The Home Front Command's northern district chief, Colonel Anwar Saab, said that the IDF is getting ready for the possibility of clearing roads on Friday in order to reach the focal points of teh fire and injured individuals.


"The IDF has brought in engineering equipment and trained professionals who know how to carry out these kind of jobs. We shall do whatever it takes," he said.


The army also decided to make available soldiers from the Golani, paratroopers and Navy training bases.


Lieutenant Ilan Merdler, a doctor at the IDF's Prison Six, assisted in the evacuation of the victims on a burned out Prison Service bus, where at least 40 people died.


The bus and the car at the scene were very sooty. I saw very tough sights, it was literally like a nightmare," he said. "I hope it all ends in the near future."



פרסום ראשון: 12.03.10, 00:45
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