Israeli backpacker missing in New Zealand

Fears are escalating for the life of an Israeli backpacker missing in New Zealand for the last two weeks.

Liat Okin, 35, was last spotted trekking alone on March 25 on the Routeburn Track on the South Island. She was expected to complete the three-day trek on March 27 but failed to collect her passport, money and belongings from a friend in Queenstown. Her cell phone has not been used since her disappearance, police said.

A crew of more than 15 rescue personnel “on land and in the air” have failed to locate her in the dense mountainous terrain. A police spokesperson said he does not suspect foul play.

Okin, who arrived in New Zealand at the beginning of the year, was reported missing by family members six days ago when she failed to make contact with them a week after setting out on the trek.

Two Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis from Canterbury, Mendel Goldstein and Oren Raz, flew to Queenstown this week to assist in the search, and are acting as liaisons to Okin’s family and the Israeli government, which
does not have a diplomatic mission in New Zealand.

The consul from the Israeli Embassy in Canberra, Australia, was dispatched to the scene earlier this week.

Greg Lind, from the Department of Conservation, told local media that tourists are often under-prepared when they try and complete the grueling trek. An Englishman died on the trek in 2006.

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