JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel is dispatching a search-and-rescue team and a fully equipped field hospital to Nepal, as some 200 Israelis remain unaccounted for following a devastating earthquake there.
The Israel Defense Forces team and hospital, including three search-and-rescue dogs and their handlers and rescue and medical equipment, are scheduled to leave Sunday night for Kathmandu, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Nearly 2,000 are said to be dead in the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck on Saturday morning. At least 5,000 people also were injured in the quake, whose whose epicenter was outside Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital. The temblor and its aftershocks also have been felt in parts of India, Bangladesh, China’s region of Tibet and Pakistan.
Hundreds of Israeli backpackers and tourist have taken refuge in the Chabad center in Kathmandu, according to Chabad.org. Some were given emergency medical treatment there and later moved to the Israeli Embassy. Chabad emissaries and volunteers also provided food to the stranded tourists, and worked to help locate the missing. The Chabad house was slightly damaged in the earthquake.
Nepal is a popular destination for young Israelis taking a break after completing their army service.
“We’re trying to calm everyone,” Chani Lifshitz, who co-directs Chabad of Nepal, said in a video posted to its Facebook page.
“We’re still gathering the names of the missing, and we’re trying to get in touch with everyone as urgently as possible. Until now, we’ve taken care of a number of injured on the couches of the Chabad House. The main work now is to gather all the names of the people — the people who are in Katmandu, the people who are in the mountains. We hope to report only good news.”
A Google executive, Dan Fredinburg, was killed in an avalanche triggered on Mount Everest by the earthquake.
Fredinburg, 33, who was Jewish, suffered a major head injury in the avalanche and died, his younger sister Megan reported in a post on his Instagram account. He had worked at Google since 2007 and was head of privacy for Google X, the company’s ideas lab.
Meanwhile, some 24 infants born in Nepal in recent days to surrogate mothers for Israeli couples will be flown out of the country and brought to Israel, Ynet reported, citing Israel’s Foreign Ministry.