An Israeli team arrived in France to retrieve the remains of Israeli victim Eyal Baum, and to assist in the general recovery effort.

A delegation of eight ZAKA International Rescue Unit volunteers flew from Israel in the early hours of Monday morning to assist in the search and recovery mission at the site of the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps. ZAKA volunteers will offer their extensive experience and expertise in international search and recovery missions to the local search teams.

The team was led by ZAKA (Hebrew acronym for Disaster Victim Identification) International Rescue Unit head Mati Goldstein and ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief of Operations Chaim Weingarten.

In particular, the ZAKA volunteers worked to recover, identify and bring the remains of Eyal Baum, the sole Israeli victim, to a full Jewish burial in Israel.

Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, agreed to the request of the Baum family to bring a ZAKA delegation from Israel to assist in the recovery operation. ZAKA volunteers have been on standby to fly out to the crash scene since offering their assistance last week.

The Israeli ZAKA team members along with volunteers from ZAKA France were helicoptered into the crash site, where they immediately set up a command center and began working in cooperation with local and international recovery teams.

“Our mission is to ensure a full Jewish burial for Eyal Baum and to assist the international teams in the search and recovery efforts,” said ZAKA delegation head Mati Goldstein.

On Tuesday, March 24, the Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into the French Alps, killing 150 passengers, among them 16 schoolchildren. According to an investigation, the co-pilot deliberately crashed the German Airbus in an apparent act of suicide.

ZAKA, a UN-recognized humanitarian organization founded in 1989, can deploy anywhere in the world within hours, the organization’s website states.

Regarding the crash site in the French Alps, Goldstein noted that the location was challenging. “It is difficult terrain to cover, but we are prepared to work for as long as it takes,” he said.

By Anav Silverman
Tazpit News Agency

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