Israeli Teams Join Mexico Search Efforts After Deadly Quake

Members of the Zaka search and rescue organization and 50 Israeli soldiers join relief efforts in Mexico after over 280 killed across country

An Israeli rescue team working near the site of an earthquake south of Mexico City, September 20, 2017.
An Israeli rescue team working near the site of an earthquake south of Mexico City, September 20, 2017. Courtesy of Zaka

Survivors are still being pulled from rubble in Mexico City as rescue operations stretch into a fourth day Friday, spurring hope among desperate relatives gathered at the sites of buildings collapsed by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake.

Israel sent a search and rescue team to Mexico in the wake of a severe earthquake.

The Mexico City government said 60 people in all had been rescued since the quake hit at midday Tuesday. Still, with the hours passing, fewer of the living were being found, and the official death toll rose to 286, with more than half, 148, in the capital. National Civil Defense chief Luis Felipe Puente tweeted early Friday that there were also 73 deaths in the state of Morelos, 45 in Puebla, 13 in Mexico, six in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.

Volunteers from Israel’s Zaka search and rescue organization arrived in Mexico in the hours following the quake and are helping local rescue forces, the organization said in a statement. In addition, engineers were sent to local synagogues to make sure that they could safely accommodate Rosh Hashanah services, according to Zaka.

In addition, a delegation of 50 Israeli soldiers left for Mexico City on Wednesday afternoon to assist in relief efforts, at the order of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Volunteers sort through medicine at a collection center in the town of Tlayacapan, Morelos State, Mexico, September 21, 2017.
Cesar Rodriguez/Bloomberg

On the same date in 1985, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake centered on Mexico City left 10,000 people dead and another 30,000 injured.

Tuesday’s quake comes two weeks after at least 96 people died in an 8.1 magnitude quake that struck off the southern Pacific coast of Mexico on Sept. 7. The Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas were hardest hit.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is also responding, supporting the search, rescue and emergency aid efforts of CADENA, its Mexican Jewish humanitarian partner. The response focuses on immediate rescue and relief including digging people out of the rubble, emergency psychology services and medical aid, according to JDC.

The JDC has also created a webpage to accept donations.