Relief efforts are well underway in areas devastated by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on Sunday, but local rescue operations by Chabad of Nepal just reached new heights. Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz—co-director of Chabad of Nepal with his wife, Chani—took to the skies in a Nepali helicopter to rescue a group of stranded hikers in remote regions hit by the earthquake.
50 Israelis were stuck in several remote villages with no food, electricity or water. An earlier 10-hour rescue mission to deliver food and satellite phones by motorcycle failed due to blocked roads.
Since the quake struck, Lifshitz has been co-ordinating local rescue efforts in conjunction with Nepalese authorities. They use satellite phones fixed with GPS to communicate with many of the Israeli hikers stuck in remote mountain regions like Dhunche, and Syrabrubesi.
The satellite phones were donated to Chabad of Nepal by the family of Israeli hiker, Nadav Shoham, who died in a freak blizzard in Nepal last year.
The Rabbi’s rescue team airlifted 25 to Kathmandu. Amid warnings of a new quake, more hikers remain in various areas of the mountainous region awaiting rescue. Bad weather near the Mount Everest base camp delayed more relief efforts yesterday.
An estimated 10,000 Israelis visit Nepal every year, and following the quake hundreds have been hunkering down, receiving hot meals and access to the internet to communicate with their families back home, at the local Chabad center.
Friends and family of the stranded hikers expressed thanks to the Rabbi and his team on Facebook. “Thank you very much for extracting my brother and his girlfriend. There are no words to thank you for all you are doing,” a woman wrote.
To help with earthquake relief efforts, you can contribute via these Jewish organizations: How To Help
Faigie Levy contributed to this report.