Global help for Israel as it fights worst-ever fire

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Global help for Israel as it fights worst-ever fire

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Israel is still battling the biggest fire in its history but it is not alone.

Emergency help from around the world has arrived as local media blasts the homegrown firefighting effort as woefully inadequate.

At least 41 people have been killed since the blaze started near Haifa on Thursday and thousands more evacuated.

Britain, Jordan and Russia are among those answering Israel’s appeal for help. Turkey, too, has responded despite diplomatic strains.

“These are two Greek airplanes that came this morning to one of our bases and entered immediately into operation,” said Major General Ido Nehushtan of the Israeli air force, as he looked into the skies. “You can see what is going on and how it is happening. It is a big help, a big help.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chaired an emergency cabinet meeting and said the disaster and response were unprecedented for Israel. But the press is contrasting the country’s military might with the inability of its fire service to handle the blaze, south of Israel’s third biggest city.

After the driest November in decades, the fire spread with devastating speed, destroying houses and scorching 7,000 acres of land.

The dead were mainly prison officer trainees, en route to evacuate inmates, when their bus was engulfed in flames.

It is thought the fire began in an illegal rubbish dump. Some newspapers have hinted at arson, one even suggesting this could prove to be the “worst terror attack” in Israel’s history.