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Israeli citizen confirmed dead in New Zealand quake

February 22, 2011 15:34

Foreign Ministry does not confirm name but victim reported to be backpacker who was visiting Christchurch when 6.3 magnitude tremor hit.

A building in Christchurch is destroyed

New Zealand earthquake 311. (photo credit:AP Photo/NZPA, Pam Johnson)

The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday confirmed that an Israeli citizen was among those killed in the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that hit the city of Christchurch in New Zealand, Israel Radio reported.

The ministry did not publish the name of the Israeli who was among 65 people that lost their life during the tragedy.

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Gallery: Rescuers work to save New Zealand quake victims

According to earlier media outlets, the Israeli victim was believed to be a backpacker who was visiting Christchurch. The reports said that friends of the missing backpacker informed his family that he had been killed in the tremor.

Rabbi Shmuel Freedman, an emissary of Chabad living in the city located on New Zealand’s South Island, said the local Chabad house had been reduced to rubble during the tremor although its occupants seemed to have escaped unscathed.

“We all ran out as it was falling down, but thank G-d everybody is okay,” he was quoted as saying by, a website run by the Hasidic movement. “We are getting everybody together now at the square to see if anybody is missing, and we are working very hard to help everybody.”

With its wild national parks and breath-taking scenery, New Zealand has become a popular destination for backpackers from Israel and around the world over the years. Several Chabad Houses including the one in Christchurch have popped up throughout the country catering to Jewish travelers.

Most of New Zealand’s 7,000 Jews live on the North Island in Auckland and Wellington, which were unaffected by the earthquake on Tuesday.
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