Rescue company searches for Okin


An Israeli-based search and rescue company has arrived in New Zealand to help locate a missing Israeli backpacker.

Liat Okin, 35, has been missing since she failed to return from the Routeburn Track, a three-day trek that she started March 25.

Hilik Magnus, who founded Magnus International Search and Rescue 12 years ago, has been joined by Okin’s brother, Itamar Tas, near Queenstown in the South Island.

Tas, whose family lives near the Gaza Strip, noted the stress on his parents, “but we’re all trying to be positive because we’re believing she’s fine.”

“We’re worried of course that she’s not in the best condition,” the 26-year-old told the local media, “but we’re all believing we’re going to see her again.”

Magnus left a rescue mission in India to help the search for Okin.

“We will go and find out as much as we can,” he said. “New Zealand is doing all it can. If we can be helpful, our team [in Israel and India] are ready to come if they are needed.”

In 1987, two Israelis were believed to have died on the Routeburn Track, but Udi and Nitzan Milo survived for five nights on a narrow ledge after they fell off the track.

About 20 rescue personnel are involved in the search for Okin. Two Chabad rabbis from nearby Canterbury and the Israeli consul from the nearest embassy, in Canberra, Australia, have flown in to aid with the effort.

Magnus has a team of 22 available for rescue operations in Israel and worldwide.


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