A 35-year-old man drowned Saturday after becoming trapped in a flooded elevator in a residential building in southern Tel Aviv.
Firefighting and Rescue Services evacuated the man from the elevator and transferred him to Tel Hashomer Hospital while attempting to resuscitate him. The man was in critical condition and suffering hypothermia, and doctors were forced to declare his death a short time later.
Searches of the area led to the discovery of a woman of about 30, who was evacuated and transferred to the hospital in critical condition. She was declared dead Saturday night.
Magen David Adom (MDA) said that the woman was evacuated after complex operations by firefighters to locate and evacuate other victims at the scene. She was found unconscious and suffering from severe hypothermia. Medical staff transferred her to Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center while performing CPR.
Yosef Nahon, a paramedic who arrived on an MDA motorcycle, said: "When I arrived at the scene, I joined up with the firefighters in the building's stairwell. The firefighters had used scuba diving equipment to search the building's flooded basement level. A man in his 30s was evacuated to us unconscious, with no heartbeat or breathing and suffering from very severe hypothermia. We provided him with medical treatment and performed CPR, and he was transferred to Tel Hashomer in critical condition, while we continued performing lifesaving actions."
The Tel Aviv municipality responded that "the rains which fell during the morning and continue to fall now in Tel Aviv-Jaffa are unusually strong. Within a few hours, we have received approximately 20% of the city's annual precipitation. So, for instance, within two hours this morning, 74 millimeters (2.9 inches) of rain fell without a break."
"Instances of dramatic rainfall such as this one which the city experienced this morning, have increased in recent years due to climate crises. Hundreds of cities around the world are dealing with similar challenges, and the municipality prepared for such a situation before it happened. Already in the morning, the mayor ordered the city's emergency meeting room to be opened and all representatives of the various municipal units were immediately brought to deal with the dangers and return the city to routine. In addition, several community centers were opened to receive evacuated residents as necessary. Every resident who needs help due to the flooding can call the municipal hotline, 106, which will be reinforced and which will make every effort to answer the calls and provide aid to all the callers.
"It is important to emphasize that the municipality prepares for winter each year and gives precedence to preventing flooding from rainfall during this season. In addition to the regular maintenance of the city's drainage system, the city took various actions in order to prepare the systems for winter, such as cleaning the stacks and drainage system, local improvements in the drainage systems, adding stacks, and adding inclines to aid drainage. In addition to all these, it is important to emphasize that the municipality cannot completely promise that there will not be floods, and all information which is received regarding specific places which are in danger of flooding are dealt with immediately by forces spread out around the area."
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded: "I am shocked at the tragic death of two residents of Tel Aviv who were killed in the elevator disaster. I spoke with the Public Security Minister, the Transportation Minister, the Israel Police Acting Commissioner and the Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner in order to clarify how this happened and how similar disasters might be prevented in the future."