Monday, December 27, 2004

Fears grow for Israelis missing in tsunami area

As the death toll in the Southeast Asian earthquake and tsunami catastrophe passed the 24,000 mark, fears grew Monday for the fate of hundreds of Israelis missing and unaccounted for.
Foreign Ministry figures updated Monday showed that a total of 540 Israelis in Southeast Asia who have not been in touch since the devasting earthquake and tsunamis struck. The list which includes all tourists and others who have failed to contact loved ones in Israel. Active searches are underway for some 20 whom diplomats in the area have listed as missing.

The missing list includes 160 Israelis on Andaman Island in the Bay of Bengal; 270 in southern Thailand; 60 in Sri Lanka and around 50 people in southern India. Another 330 Israelis in the region have since been accounted for.

...At least 10 Israelis were injured in Thailand by the earthquake and subsequent massive tidal waves, the Foreign Ministry said.

Israel on Sunday night sent an initial relief delegation to Sri Lanka, including four doctors from Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, in Jerusalem.

The doctors, who are scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka later Monday, specialize in rescue operations, trauma and pediatrics. The team was sent to assess the scope of the disaster and decide whether to establish a field hospital.

"It is possible... we will advise Israel and the Foreign Ministry... to send something more massive," said Dr. Avi Rivkind, director of Hadassah's trauma unit. "We will try to use our... broad experience in dealing with terror attacks and rescuing masses to help in this disaster as well."