R' Moises Saba, a prominent member of the Syrian (Halab) Jewish community in Mexico, was killed in a frightful helicopter accident along with three of his family members on the outskirts of Mexico City. The accident claimed the lives of Moises, 47, his wife, his eldest son Alberto, who had learned in the Kol Torah yeshiva in Jerusalem, and his daughter-in-law z"l.
R' Moises Saba z"l provided prodigious support for yeshivas and other Torah institutions in Eretz Yisroel and Mexico. His family was among the wealthiest in Mexico. He owned a number of communications and pharmaceutical companies, in addition to textile ventures, hotels, aviation and shipping companies and real estate, including Mexico's second largest communications company.
The four victims boarded the helicopter at the Toluca International Airport after arriving on a flight from New York. The crash may have been caused by very poor weather in the Mexico City area over the course of several days. According to reports, heavy fog blanketed the area of the crash. Emergency services officials said one of the rotors hit a building, causing the crash.
Rescue and security units arrived at the crash site, followed later by Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, Communications and Transportation Minister Juan Molinar Horcasitas, Mexico City Civil Defense Minister Elias Moreno Brizuela, members of the Saba family and friends from the Jewish community. No one survived the crash.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing an explosion on board the helicopter, saying it went up in flames before falling to the ground.
Upon receiving reports of the tragedy, said ZAKA Spokesman Motti Bukchin, the organization immediately organized a team of five volunteers who flew to Mexico via the US on Monday afternoon to help identify the victims and gather their remains at the crash site.
Bukchin said R' Moises Saba had been a ZAKA supporter and had recently helped found a local ZAKA unit. Sadly, volunteers from that unit were the ones who handled the remains of him and his family members.
The ZAKA spokesman described the setup of organic units in places like the US, France, Mexico, Argentina and even the Far East. These organizations, established in the aftermath of the Mumbai tragedy, would activate volunteers in the event of a tragedy similar to this week's accident in Mexico.
In the event of a tragic event related to the local Jewish community or Israelis staying in the area, a first-response team from the local ZAKA unit would arrive at the site. If the local volunteers determine they cannot handle the situation independently, they would request the organization send a team from Eretz Yisroel.