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Several Israelis still missing in New Zealand

JTA

February 23, 2011 | 10:48 am

Up to four Israelis who were in Christchurch, New Zealand at the time remain missing and are feared dead.

On Wednesday, Israel’s consul to New Zealand, Teddy Poplinger, said that his staff is working to contact all Israelis who were reported to be in the area of the quake when it struck on Tuesday.

“[T]here is a list of Israelis who have yet to make contact. We are more worried about three or four of them because they were last seen around town prior to the earthquake,” Poplinger told Israeli media Wednesday.

Israeli backpacker Ofer Mizrahi, 23, was among 75 confirmed killed in Tuesday’s earthquake, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale and devastated the city of Christchurch. Some 300 people are still listed as missing and many are known to be trapped in buildings. The city’s Chabad center was destroyed in the quake.

Israel, which has hundreds of nationals trekking in New Zealand every year, offered to send food and medicine to help; Magen David Adom is assessing the possibility of sending rescue personnel. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said there were up to 150 Israelis in Christchurch at the time of the quake.

Prime Minister John Key, the son of a Jewish refugee who escaped Europe on the eve of the Holocaust, called the disaster the nation’s “darkest day.”

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