search

Four Israelis rescued from Mt. Everest, 100 still missing

2 IDF planes, including field hospital team, en route for quake-stricken Nepal; five more surrogacy families arrive in Tel Aviv

An injured person is loaded onto a rescue helicopter at Everest Base Camp,  April 26, 2015. (AFP/Roberto Schmidt)
An injured person is loaded onto a rescue helicopter at Everest Base Camp, April 26, 2015. (AFP/Roberto Schmidt)

Four Israelis were rescued from the slopes of Mt. Everest on Monday, where they had been trapped in the wake of the earthquake that shook the mountainous nation of Nepal on Saturday, leading to a death toll in the thousands. Some 100 Israelis are still missing, according to Israeli officials.

Army Radio said a rescue team sent by Harel, an Israeli insurance company, brought the quartet to safety. All four were reported to be in good health.

Meanwhile, an army 747 jet carrying 250 medical and rescue personnel and supplies, including a field hospital, lifted off from Ben Gurion Airport Monday afternoon for the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.

The plane was the second shipment of aid Monday to the earthquake-battered nation. Earlier in the day, another IDF plane carrying 90 rescue workers and supplies lifted off from Ben Gurion.

A third plane, also a 747, was scheduled to take off at 10 p.m. Israel time.

The second plane saw its take-off delayed due to problems getting landing approval in Kathmandu, where officials worked feverishly Monday to determine if large jets could land safely at the capital’s damaged international airport.

Fears are mounting over a bottleneck as countries rush to send aid to a country whose infrastructure was badly damaged and where aftershocks were still being felt late Sunday.

At least 3,700 are said killed and over 6,500 wounded in the magnitude 7.8 earthquake, with the number expected to rise in the coming days. Tens of thousands have been sleeping in streets, and the fate of entire mountainside villages remains unknown as access to remote areas was disrupted by damage to roads.

Meanwhile, a Magen David Adom plane landed Monday afternoon at Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov airport, carrying five babies born to Israeli couples through surrogate mothers. The children and parents were all reported in good health.

An IDF aid delegation prepares to board an air force plane for Nepal , April 27, 2015.  (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
An IDF aid delegation prepares to board an air force plane for Nepal , April 27, 2015. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

Nepal is a major destination for Israeli families seeking surrogate mothers to bear their children. Following Saturday’s disaster, families of 26 babies recently born to Israelis in the Asian nation appealed to the Israeli government to help bring their children to Israel as quickly as possible, citing the newborns’ fragile state and the current harsh conditions in Nepal, which could endanger them.

Interior Minister Gilad Erdan waived the usual bureaucratic hurdles to bringing the children into the country in the wake of the quake. The newborns are all expected to arrive with Israeli rescue missions in the next few days.

IDF aid delegation treats an infant in Nepal. (IDF Spokesperson)
IDF aid delegation treats an infant in Nepal. (IDF Spokesperson)

Two Israeli families are stuck in Kathmandu because their babies were born prematurely and were hospitalized in a Kathmandu hospital’s preemie wing. The babies were evacuated from the hospital during the quake and are now housed in a small private car parked in the hospital’s parking lot to which the medical equipment required for their survival was moved. The babies were reportedly in good condition Monday.

The parents refused to board a Magen David Adom plane that left Nepal Sunday night because it did not have on board the necessary equipment to ensure their children’s survival.

Three additional Israeli families with babies born through surrogate mothers in Nepal arrived in Israel late Sunday, landing at the Air Force’s Nevatim base and receiving initial medical care at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center. The babies are healthy, according to hospital authorities.

Interior Minister Gilad Erdan (2nd R) and Director of Magen David Adom Eli Bean (3rd R) greet parents carrying their newborn babies as they arrive in Israel, April 27, 2015. (MDA)
Interior Minister Gilad Erdan (2nd R) and Director of Magen David Adom Eli Bean (3rd R) greet parents carrying their newborn babies as they arrive in Israel, April 27, 2015. (MDA)

Omri Lanzet, a new father who landed in Israel with his newborn son Yonatan on Sunday night, told Ynet news, “We had a baby just days old with us, and had no heat. The food and the diapers ran out.”

He urged the government to do all it that it could for the other families.

“The babies are the most vulnerable, and some of them were born prematurely. It’s neither the place nor the proper environment for a baby only a few days old,” he said.

On Sunday the Justice Ministry ruled that there was no reason to prevent four pregnant Nepalese surrogate mothers who were carrying babies for Israeli couples from evacuating to Israel.

Israeli parents-to-be had earlier put in a special request that the women be allowed to seek refuge in Israel.

The IDF team was to focus on search and rescue and on setting up a full field hospital, which will be operational within 12 hours of landing.

When Monday afternoon’s flight arrives, half the Israeli team will set up the field hospital — including operating rooms, X-ray equipment and pediatric care — to provide emergency medical services to the wounded. The other half will conduct search-and-rescue missions in collapsed buildings.

A soldier prepares equipment and supplies for the IDF's delegation to Nepal at the Tel Hashomer army base in Ramat Gan on April 26, 2015. (Photo credit: Gadi Yampel/IDF Spokesperson)
A soldier prepares equipment and supplies for the IDF’s delegation to Nepal, at the Tel Hashomer army base in Ramat Gan on April 26, 2015. (photo credit: Gadi Yampel/IDF Spokesperson)

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner expects Israel’s field hospital to be the first in operation in Nepal. In the past, the IDF has set up field hospitals following natural disasters in Haiti, the Philippines and Japan.

The field hospital will include “pediatric, surgical, internal medicine, neonatal, and radiology departments as well as a maternity ward and an emergency and operating room,” the IDF said in a statement.

A soldier prepares equipment and supplies for the IDF's delegation to Nepal at the Tel Hashomer army base in Ramat Gan on April 26, 2015. (Photo credit: Gadi Yampel/IDF Spokesperson)
A soldier prepares equipment and supplies for the IDF’s delegation to Nepal at the Tel Hashomer army base in Ramat Gan on April 26, 2015. (photo credit: Gadi Yampel/IDF Spokesperson)

It added that the hospital would be able to treat about 200 patients a day.

“This is a large, high-end delegation with a considerable staff, including the 40 doctors and nurses of the field hospital,” Laredo said in the statement.

Meanwhile, authorities have yet to establish contact with some 100 Israelis known to be in Nepal, the Foreign Ministry said. The figure is down from 150 on Sunday.

Many of the Israelis are hiking in far-flung mountains in the Himalayan nation, areas where Nepalese authorities have yet to establish contact with entire villages believed damaged in the wake of Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake.

The Foreign Ministry has said it believes the Israelis are likely okay, but unable to communicate with the outside world due to electrical outages and bad weather throughout Nepal.

Mark Sofer, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general for Asia and the Pacific, is in Kathmandu to oversee Israel’s efforts to locate and rescue the stranded Israelis.

Loading an aircraft with rescue equipment at Ben Gurion International Airport, as the IDF aid delegation prepares to board a plane to Nepal. April 27, 2015. (IDF Spokesperson)
Loading an aircraft with rescue equipment at Ben Gurion International Airport, as the IDF aid delegation prepares to board a plane to Nepal. April 27, 2015. (IDF Spokesperson)

The Maariv newspaper reported that a group of families and friends of Israeli hikers stranded in Nepal was demonstrating Monday afternoon in front of the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters in Jerusalem. The demonstration called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman to increase efforts to rescue the missing Israelis, including dozens believed to be in the Gosaikunda lake area, a favorite destination for Israeli backpackers.

Foreign Ministry director general Nissim Ben Sheetrit met with the demonstrators Monday afternoon.

The earthquake was the worst to hit the South Asian nation in more than 80 years. It destroyed swaths of the oldest neighborhoods of Kathmandu and was strong enough to be felt all across parts of India, Bangladesh, China’s region of Tibet and Pakistan.

AP contributed to this report.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed