Map of earthquake center point
Map of earthquake center pointIsrael news photo: US Geological Survey

Three Israeli have not yet been heard from after the island nation of Haiti was struck Tuesday by the worst earthquake to hit the area in more than 200 years. Thousands are feared dead after the quake which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, struck the capital of Port-au-Prince just before 5:00 p.m. Tuesday.

Among the missing is Sharona Elsaieh, the daughter of the late American-Israeli peace activist and owner of the “Voice of Peace” ocean vessel-cum-radio station, Abie Nathan. Elsaieh, who lives in Haiti with her husband, was last in contact with her family a month ago. One of her children lives in Israel; the other three live in the United States.

The identity of the other two Israelis was not released, but Foreign Ministry officials said they are in constant contact with their families.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the Defense Ministry to act quickly to send humanitarian aid to the impoverished nation. “In order to assess the damage on the ground and in order to tailor the aid to the [island’s] needs, a professional team of Home Front Command personnel will leave for Miami in order to shorten times to Haiti. The Israeli Ambassador to the Dominican Republic was instructed to travel to Haiti and to report the situation,” said a statement by the Prime Minister’s office.  

Foreign Ministry representatives said Israel’s ambassador to the neighboring Dominican Republic, Amos Radyan will join a rescue team that is already on its way to the scene to assess what aid is most needed in the area.

Daniel Saban, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Latin American department, members of the IDF Search and Rescue Unit and officers of the IDF Medical Corps will be joining the delegation, as will a contingent of 50 IDF officers trained in emergency medication treatment, and rescue and recovery operations. Part of the team will be tasked with setting up a field hospital.

The IsraAID organization is also planning to send a 12-member search-and-rescue team to the scene, comprised of emergency medical personnel and trauma workers.  In addition, a team from the Magen David Adom emergency medical service will also be sent to the area. The MDA team will coordinate its efforts with workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Among the thousands who are still listed as missing is Hedi Annabi, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission to the country, who was in the U.N. headquarters building when the earthquake hit, as well as many of his personnel.  Peacekeepers have been stationed in Haiti since the nation’s president was ejected in a military coup.

The Taiwan embassy has been destroyed, reported the Taiwan Foreign Ministry, and its ambassador has been hospitalized. Details about his injuries were not disclosed.

The National Palace, also located in the capital, collapsed as well; sources said that President Rene Preval and his wife both survived the disaster, but their exact condition is unknown.

More than 3,000,000 people in the country, the poorest in the northern hemisphere, are thought to have been affected by the massive earthquake.