Death toll in Tel Aviv construction site collapse rises to 3

Marcy Oster

Rescue personnel digging in the search for missing workers at a construction site collapse in Tel Aviv, Sept. 5, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Rescue personnel digging in the search for missing workers at a construction site collapse in Tel Aviv, Sept. 5, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The body of a worker was pulled from the rubble of the collapse of a four-level underground parking structure under construction in Tel Aviv, bringing the death toll to three.

Four other workers, two Israeli and two Palestinian, are believed to still be trapped under the rubble, more than 24 hours after the collapse at the building site late on Monday morning.  At least 20 people were injured in the accident. One of the dead has been identified as a Ukrainian worker.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site, which was swarming with search and rescue personnel, late on Monday night, eschewing the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match between Israel and Italy being held in Jerusalem.

“I am constantly monitoring the rescue efforts at the disaster site in Tel Aviv,” Netanyahu said Tuesday morning as he boarded a flight for a two-day state visit in the Netherlands. “I visited there last night. I was deeply impressed by the work of the rescue units led by GOC Home Front Command. The people are doing exceptional work on the highest professional level to be found anywhere in the world. There are still people trapped; we are making every effort and are not giving up on anyone. We will reach them all.”

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Dudi Mizrahi, the head of the Israeli army’s Home Front Command Search and Rescue Unit, said Monday evening that the search-and-rescue operation could go on for days. He said “the chances of finding anyone alive” was less likely with each passing hour, according to The Times of Israel.

Some 300 Israeli army search-and-rescue personnel have been involved in the search, as well as 160 rescue workers from the fire department. A K-9 unit also is on the scene to assist in locating the missing workers. The search and rescue operation has been continuous since the collapse.

Police have placed a gag order on details of the investigation into what caused the collapse, according to Haaretz, which reported that a number of serious safety accidents have occurred in recent months at sites under construction by Danya Cebus, the company operating the site where Monday’s collapse occurred. An accident three months ago occurred at the same site, according to Haaretz.