(January 28, 2019 / JNS) A search-and-rescue team of 130 Israeli conscripted and reserve soldiers landed on a specially chartered emergency El Al flight in South Western Brazil late Sunday to join local rescue crews in the search for hundreds of people who went missing when a dam collapsed.
Romeu Zema, the governor of Minas Gerais where the Brumadinho dam is located, greeted the delegation—comprised of medical officers, search-and-rescue specialists and members of the Israeli Navy Yaltam scuba unit—upon their arrival at Belo Horizonte International Airport.
“Following a situational assessment and discussions with local officials, it emerged that search and rescue is the main need at the Brazilian disaster site,” said the Israel Defense Forces in a statement.
The aid mission comes following the recent election of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who said prior to taking office that he was committed to moving Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Brazil to attend Bolsonaro’s investiture on Jan. 1.
At least 58 people have been confirmed dead in the disaster, though the number seems to be growing.