Quake Update: 1 Israeli Confirmed Dead, 11 Still Missing
At least two Israelis believed to have been in Christchurch remain missing following the devastating New Zealand earthquake. Israeli backpackers Ofer Levy and Gabi Ingel, both from Rehovot, were believed to have been in Christchurch when the quake struck. They remain missing and are feared dead. Nine other Israeli citizens thought to have been traveling in New Zealand when the earthquake struck have not yet been located, according to Israel’s Ambassador Shemi Tzur. As of Sunday, the official death toll was 147; more than 50 are still missing.
At his Sunday Cabinet briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the government of Israel is “working with the government of New Zealand…to locate those who are missing and to provide assistance, such as I have offered to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, to help New Zealand overcome this crisis.” Israel will send water purification equipment and temporary shelters.
Confirmed dead is Ofer Mizrachi, 23, from Kibbutz Magal near Haifa. His body is to be flown to Israel for burial. His three traveling companions escaped the falling debris that crushed their car and returned to Israel February 24.
As previously reported by the Algemeiner, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Goldstein, Co-Director of Chabad of New Zealand stated that all members of the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation are safe. This information has been confirmed by the congregation’s past president Bettina Wallace. The synagogue sustained repairable damage, and some members have lost their homes and businesses. Members have been offered assistance by the Jewish community of Queensland, Australia, itself a recent victim of massive floods. Appeals to assist the community have also been initiated by Bnei Akiva of New Zealand.