SYDNEY, Oct. 8 (JTA) – An analysis of water from the site of this summer’s Maccabiah Games bridge collapse in Israel has revealed that Australian team members “fell into a deadly cocktail of chemicals and pollutants,” according to tests conducted by an Australian newspaper. Barry Lyons, a director for WSL Consultants, which conducted the tests for the Sunday Herald-Sun, said the results of a sample from the Yarkon River indicated that the water was “quite contaminated,” resembling “diluted sewage.” The report also produced evidence that the water contained a toxic oil that can be used to repel mosquitoes and that the substance caused “oily gunk” on the lungs of the victims which prevented oxygen from being absorbed by the body. According to Dr. Elihu Richter of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, “the substance in the Australian tests – and what we have found with our own experience – would produce the kind of pneumonia which developed in the athletes hours and days after they fell into the water.” Four Australian athletes died as a result of the July 14 collapse during the opening ceremonies at the Ramat Gan Stadium, and a number of team members became seriously ill. An Israeli commission that investigated the incident found that a combination of factors, including shoddy materials and faulty contruction, led to the accident. Initial analyses conducted on water samples soon after the accident indicated that the water contained contaminants, but did not cause any of the deaths. Meanwhile, some family members of those injured in the accident continue to show public displeasure with how the the incident has been handled. Colin Elterman, whose 15-year-old daughter, Sasha, remains in a Sydney hospital with symptoms that include high fevers and a lung infection, has been openly critical of the way that Maccabi Australia has dealt with the issue, particularly for what he sees as its inability to pressure the Maccabi World Union. In a paid advertisement taken out in the Australian Jewish News last month, Elterman exempted Israel from blame, saying that the international sports organization, along with the engineers and the builders, should be held responsible. In a Rosh Hashanah message, Tom Goldman, president of Maccabi Australia, was also critical of the international organization, but added that the first installment of a loan from the group was expected to arrive in Australia soon. Goldman added that Maccabi Australia is evaluating its participation in the group.
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