PM thanks Erdogan for airplanes to battle Carmel fire, praises Israeli rescue workers; firefighting plane lands from Russia.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday evening carried out telephone conversations with leaders from Norway, Finland, Belgium, Holland and Germany in an attempt to secure additional firefighting planes.

A firefighting plane landed in Israel from Russia to help extinguish fires raging in the north of the country.

Up-to-date map of fires raging in Carmel
Firefighters block flames at entrance to Tirat Hacarmel
Turkey offers assistance in Carmel fire despite tensions

Earlier Friday, Netanyahu thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for sending airplanes to help battle the Carmel brush-fire which had already claimed more than 40 lives.

“I really appreciate Turkey’s help, we will find a way to express our appreciation.” The prime minister’s comments came during a visit to the Carmel fire injured at Rambam hospital in Haifa.

He later added that he believed Turkey’s granting of aid to Israel “will serve as an opening to improve relations between Israel and Turkey.”

Netanyahu also spoke with Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin, and thanked him and his country for their assistance in the effort to control the deadly forest fire.

The prime minister also praised Israeli rescue workers, the IDF, the Israel Prisons Service, and hospitals around the country.

Earlier on Friday, Netyanyahu thanked his other international counterparts for planes, firefighters, supplies and fire retardant chemicals sent to assist efforts to control the huge forest fire.

In a press conference held after an emergency cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu mentioned Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who he called a “real friend,” as well as Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov

The international aid effort is being coordinated by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the Foreign Ministry, Netanyahu said, adding that the option of bringing in more supplies from Canada and the US was being considered. He said that the cabinet had a national plan which would be implemented in the coming days.

Before the cabinet meeting, Lieberman told Israel Radio that the country was dealing with a disaster like we have never known before.” He charged that though a shortage of fire-fighting planes was common knowledge, “nothing here ever happens until disaster strikes.”

The foreign minister also referred to international aid which was being flown in to help Israeli efforts controlling the fire. Four Greek aircraft, four from France, three from Britain, two from Spain, two from Russia, two from Turkey, two from Cyprus, two from Bulgaria, one from Croatia and one from Azerbaijan were expected to arrive by noon, Lieberman said.

He said that the Germans had “made the initiative” to request the fire-fighting planes from Turkey, and that El Al was organizing for the transfer of a special fire-fighting liquid from France.

Speaking before the cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Eli Yishai called for the establishment of a committee to probe the handling of the fire. “It is a tragedy, and it’s crucial that we look into all surrounding factors,” Yishai said.

Eight foreign planes, three helicopters, three firetrucks, and over 150 foreign firefighters have arrived in Israel so far. More are expected soon.