New Zealand earthquake 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The number of Israelis believed to have been in or near Christchurch when the
devastating earthquake hit there on Tuesday and who are still unaccounted for
dropped from 21 to four on Thursday night, according to Army
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, who had earlier put the
number at 15, stressed that these Israelis were classified as not having made
contact either with their families in Israel or with consular officials in
Christchurch, but they were not classified as missing.
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There is no
certainty that all were in Christchurch when the earthquake hit, although two of
them were seen in the city on the day of the temblor, he said. The others may
have been on hikes outside the city.Ofer Mizrahi
from Kibbutz Magal in
Wadi Ara, who is feared dead after a boulder smashed into his car, is the only
Israeli characterized as missing, Palmor said. In all likelihood, some of those
who have not made contact with family are on hikes and may not even be aware of
the earthquake, he said.
There are two Israeli diplomats in Christchurch
working with the local authorities and the Israeli backpackers in the city to
help look for the unaccounted- for Israelis. They are also expediting the
processing of documents for Israelis who lost them in the earthquake and need
them to leave the country.
Gil Shefler adds: New Zealand’s Bnei Akiva
youth group on Thursday started a campaign to raise money aimed at helping the
Jewish community. “The money is intended to help the small Jewish community in
the city,” said Moshe Naor, a Bnei Akiva representative in New Zealand. “It
still isn’t clear what kind of damage was done to the synagogue or which members
of the community need help.”
The Bnei Akiva chapter in Auckland will
collect and distribute the funds.