Fri, Jun 12, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Woman searches garbage for mom’s US$1m mattress

THE GUARDIAN , JERUSALEM

Workers search for a mattress that reportedly contains US$1 million in a landfill in Efeh, Israel, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

An Israeli woman has begun an unenviable trawl through her country’s landfill sites after accidentally throwing out a mattress apparently stuffed with nearly US$1 million in cash.

The woman, who did not give her name, threw out her mother’s decade-old mattress at her home in Tel Aviv on Monday after buying her a replacement as a surprise gift. She was then shattered to learn that her mother had banked all her savings, in shekels and dollars, in that most traditional of hiding places. She rushed off to retrieve the mattress — only to discover the rubbish had already been collected.

The woman went into the street to find the mattress, but it had been taken away by rubbish collectors. She then took a taxi to the Hiriya site on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, a vast mountain of rubbish being turned into a park that serves as a way station handling all the rubbish for the city and its surrounding area.

But she was too late. Three thousand tonnes of rubbish had arrived that morning from across the city and had already been loaded on to lorries to be shipped out for burial at landfill sites in southern and eastern Israel.

The woman hitched a ride with one of the truck drivers, who took her to the Ganei Hadas landfill site, near Be’er Sheva, in the southern Negev desert. But she could find no trace of the mattress and went on to another landfill site at Efeh, near the Dead Sea, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said.

The paper published a photograph of the woman with her back to the camera searching through a vast and unpleasant pile of rubbish. A team of workers at the Efeh site were asked to stay on until nightfall on Tuesday to search for her mattress, but it was not found.

An Israeli police spokesman said he did not know of the case and no report had been made to police. There was no way to verify that the mattress was indeed stuffed with so much cash, but Yitzhak Borba, the manager of the Efeh dump, told Israel’s Army Radio that as the woman waded through the rubbish she seemed “totally desperate.”

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