PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - A team from the ZAKA International Rescue Unit pulled eight students from a collapsed eight-story Port-au-Prince university building on Saturday.
The six-man team, four from Israel and two from Mexico, flew to Haiti aboard a Mexican Air Force Hercules aircraft, having just completed a 38-hour stint to recover and identify Jewish victims of a helicopter crash.
Mati Goldstein, head of ZAKA's International Rescue Unit, described the situation in Haiti by e-mail to the organization's Jerusalem headquarters.
"Everywhere, the acrid smell of bodies hangs in the air," Goldstein wrote. "It's just like the stories we are told of the Holocaust - thousands of bodies everywhere," he continued.
"You have to understand that the situation [here] is true madness and the more time passes, there are more and more bodies - in numbers that cannot be grasped. It is beyond comprehension," Goldstein wrote.
Team members, all Orthodox Jews, took time out to recite Shabbat (Sabbath) prayers, described as "a surreal sight of ultra-Orthodox men wrapped in prayer shawls standing on the collapsed buildings."
"Many locals sat quietly in the rubble, staring at the men as the prayed facing Jerusalem. At the end of the prayers, they crowded around the delegation and kissed the prayer shawls," Goldstein reported by e-mail.