Seven of the eight Israelis believed missing in the mammoth earthquake that struck the Carribean nation of Haiti on Tuesday were located by early Thursday.
One Israeli still remains unaccounted for: the daughter of Abie Nathan, the late peace activist and founder of the former “Voice of Peace” ship-bound radio station.
It is feared that more than 100,000 people may have died in the tragedy, with hundreds of thousands of others wounded, missing and/or still trapped under collapsed buildings.
Israel Sends Relief Flight: Field Hospital, 220 People, More Supplies
"Israel wishes to express its solidarity with the Government and the people of Haiti during this great disaster," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "We send our condolences to the families of the casualties, and wish the injured a speedy recovery." It announced that a "220-person delegation, headed by Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, will leave [Thursday evening] for Port-au-Prince on two Boeing 747 jets leased from El Al by the IDF. The relief package includes a Home Front Command field hospital and rescue unit, as well as teams from Magen David Adom and Israel Police."
Israel's ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Amos Radian, is already in Port-au-Prince, close to the epicenter of the earthquake, "where he is coordinating Israel's contribution with local authorities and international aid agencies," the statement added.
A four-man International Rescue Unit from ZAKA also left Mexico City early Thursday on a flight to Haiti to offer immediate assistance to survivors. The Israel-based volunteers were in the region, having just completed a recovery operation following the helicopter crash that killed Mexican businessman Moshe Saba and three family members earlier in the week.
The team, expected to be the first Israeli delegation to arrive in the area, will begin assessing needs with local and international emergency authorities. All four members have had prior experience in similar natural disasters, including the Katrina hurricane and the East Asia tsunami.
Other rescue and recovery teams from Israel are also on the way, including an elite unit of IDF engineers. A 12-man search-and-rescue unit from IsraAID, a Foreign Ministry team whose purpose will be to gauge which services are most needed, and an IDF Home Front Command delegation tasked with setting up a field hospital and other services are all expected to arrive within the next few hours.
Worst Earthquake to Rock the Region Since 1700’s
The quake, which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, was the worst to hit the region in more than 200 years, destroying much of the city. The National Palace collapsed, as did the parliament building, the tax office, schools and hospitals.
The United Nations peacekeepers’ headquarters building was also destroyed, apparently killing at least 150, including the head of the UN peacekeeping mission. UN spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva that the main prison in Port-au-Prince had also collapsed, “and there are reports of escaped inmates.”
The Roman Catholic archbishop in the island nation’s capital was also reported dead. Most of Haiti's population are affiliated with the Roman Catholic church.