From the moment the first of two deadly earthquakes shook Turkey earlier this week, delegations from all over the world started packing their bags and heading to the affected areas in an attempt to help locate and extract trapped victims who were still alive. Radio 103 FM's Nissim Mishal and Guy Peleg spoke with Lt. Col. Doron Ziv, a member of the IDF Homefront Command delegation, who shared details from the front lines of the rescue operation.
"Last night was immensely challenging, just like the night before. Regarding the weather, it was really tough, but our motivation is through the roof, the adrenaline is flowing, and we're giving it all we've got to save lives in the final hours remaining," Ziv said. "We managed to save eight people who were trapped under the rubble, eight people who are alive today and who probably wouldn't be if we hadn't made it to them on time. We need to give everything we have to save a few more and help a few more because time is running out - the time factor is critical when it comes to extracting people from the rubble."
He explained that, "In the first 24 to 48 hours, the chances for success are the highest, and from then onward, they drop very quickly. I would say two or three days, that's our window of opportunity to give what we can. On the other hand, there are miracles, such as when a rescue delegation in Haiti pulled someone out of the rubble alive 10 days after the quake. We'll be here as long as we can to save lives and help the survivors. In this tragic event, we aren't the story; the story is the event that took place here, and the whole world came to help."
When asked if the Turks know that the team members are Israeli, Ziv replied: "They know we're Israelis, everyone asks where we're from, and we proudly tell them that we're from Israel. The display of love and respect we see is outstanding; everyone thanks us from the bottom of their hearts. I think that our delegation managed to warm the locals' hearts toward Israel. Our base is at the Operations Center of all the rescue teams in the area. There are a few dozen delegations, but most consist of between eight and fourteen people, along with a few dogs. Our delegation stands out with regard to its scope and makeup. We have 150 rescue workers, and now a field hospital is being set up, and that's really a game changer. The amount of personnel Israel sent is equivalent to many of the other overseas delegations combined."
Regarding the weather, Ziv described the "terrible cold - last night it dropped to six degrees below zero, and we're working outside, of course. We are well equipped, with warm clothes and anything else we need, and a lot of motivation that helps us forget our frozen fingers."