Netanyahu Expresses ‘Deep Shock’ over Elevator Drowning after Record Rainfall

Israeli Police officers block the flooded Ayalon freeway in Tel Aviv, Israel,Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Heavy rains flooded Tel Aviv. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressed his “deep shock” over the drowning of a man and a woman in an elevator, the result of massive flooding in Tel Aviv following record rainfall over the weekend. 

In under two hours, some 72 millimeters of rain hit the coastal Israeli city, comprising 20 percent of the annual rainfall.

Dean Yaakov Shoshani and Stav Harari, both 25, called the elevator from their basement parking lot. The elevator malfunctioned, likely due to a power outage from the rain. The two banged on the doors of the elevator and neighbors called the police but it took around 45 minutes for rescue services to arrive, by which time the two had drowned.

“On behalf of government ministers and also many citizens of Israel, I would like to express deep shock over the tragic deaths of Dean Yaakov Shoshani and Stav Harari, who perished yesterday in the elevator disaster,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

He added he was in discussions with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Transportation Minister Israel Katz, Police Acting Commissioner Roni Alsheich and the Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner Dedi Semchi to clarify how the tragedy occured and to take action to prevent future disasters.

Tel Aviv Mayor Huldai sent his condolences to the families of the drowning victims, and said the heavy rainfall, and not his city’s infrastructure, was to blame for the tragedy.

“Yesterday, the rainfall levels were a once-in-50-year [event]. There is no drainage system in the world that can deal with this flow,” Huldai told the Kan public broadcaster.

Neighbors in the building claimed to have called police “hundreds of times” after they failed to pry open the elevator doors.

The southern parts of the city, including Jaffa, were most affected by the rainfall.

A pair of enterprising surfers took the opportunity to take their boards down Salameh St, a main thoroughfare which runs from south Tel Aviv and into Jaffa.

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