Deadliest fire in Israel’s history leaves 40 dead. Netanyahu describes fire as a “catastrophe the likes of which we have never known”; appeals to Russia, Italy, Greece and Cyprus for help; declares national day of mourning for victims

Northern Israel was in a state of emergency on Thursday night as the deadliest fire in Israel’s history, in the Carmel Forest near Haifa, brought life to a halt in communities near the blaze. As the blazing fire, which started running wild on Thursday (Dec. 2) afternoon, continued spreading in the Carmel Forest near Haifa (northern Israel) annihilating over 750 acres, a bus carrying as many as 50 passengers overturned en route between kibbutz Beit Oren and Damon Prison, allegedly after the driver lost control of the vehicle because of the fire and surrounding smoke. 40 people have been killed and ten were injured. There are reports that Carmel Hospital may have to be evacuated.

The burned down bus which was en route between kibbutz Beit Oren and Damon Prison

The IDF allocated all of its resources on Thursday to assist the Fire and Rescue Service in battling the blaze.  The IDF Home Front Command had established a command post near the scene of the blaze and was coordinating relief efforts together with the Northern Police District. The IDF sent the Northern District Police Commander, IAF helicopters, hundreds of soldiers from local education bases, tens of medical crews including medics and doctors as well as medical supplies and two army battalions to help put out the fire and carry tanks of water.

There are only 1500 firefighters in Israel and the nation has run out of flame retardant chemicals. Responding to the Prime Minister’s appeal for assistance, Bulgaria has reportedly sent 50 firefighters to assist, and Spain has sent 4 planes.

We’ll keep you up to date as the story unfolds. Also, The Muqata is liveblogging on the crisis.   Israel Matzav is also providing updates.

For Israelis wanting to help:

National Hotline to help families displaced by the fire:

02 652 22 22

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x570ruCtQWE]

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