Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered humanitarian aid and assistance to Mexico following a major 7.1-magnitude earthquake Tuesday that has killed hundreds as the death toll rises.
“Israel has received a request for assistance following the severe earthquake in Mexico,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “[Netanyahu] ordered that assistance and a search and rescue operation be organized and leave for Mexico as soon as possible.”
The earthquake, which hit about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City, has so far killed more than 200 people. That number is expected to climb as untold numbers of people are trapped in collapsed buildings.
Volunteers with the Israeli-based ZAKA International Rescue Unit were already on the ground in Mexico assisting with search and rescue and recovery efforts.
“ZAKA Mexico volunteers are now in the disaster area and are taking part in the search to locate a Jewish resident who, according to reports, was in one of the collapsed buildings. In addition, the volunteers are helping local rescue forces deal with the bodies of the victims,” said ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief Officer Mati Goldstein.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has also responded, partnering with CADENA, its Mexican Jewish humanitarian partner, to support the search, rescue, and provide emergency aid in hard-hit Mexico City.
“As Jews around the world gather to celebrate our New Year, we also mourn the loss of life to this terrible disaster, pray for a speedy recovery, and have deployed a swift response to overwhelming needs in Mexico City,” said JDC CEO David Schizer.
Tuesday’s quake – the second major earthquake in the country in recent weeks – struck on the 32nd anniversary of the devastating 1985 Mexico City earthquake that killed thousands of people.
Just days prior to Netanyahu’s visit to Mexico last week, Israel sent aid to Mexico following a previous 8.2-magnitude earthquake.