Israeli feared missing in New Zealand earthquake

Reports say friends of missing backpacker inform family he's dead; Christchurch's Chabad House among buildings destroyed.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
February 22, 2011 10:37
1 minute read.
A building in Christchurch is destroyed

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

 
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An Israeli is missing and feared to have died in the 6.3 magnitude quake which struck Christchurch, New Zealand on Tuesday killing at least 65 people and razing dozens of buildings including the city’s newly built Chabad House.

According to media outlets, friends of the missing backpacker informed his family that he had been killed in the tremor but no official confirmation of the report had been issued yet.

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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 Chabad.org, 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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