Israel Offers Help to New Zealand Following Earthquake

Israeli tourist killed during earthquake

Published: February 22nd 2011
in News » World

Earthquake destroyed New Zealand Chabad center

The devastating 6.3-magnitude quake, the second powerful temblor to hit the city of Christchurch, New Zealand in five months, flattened tall buildings and sent chunks of concrete and bricks hurtling onto cars, buses and pedestrians below.


The quake, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale, even shook off a massive chunk of ice from New Zealand's biggest glacier some 120 miles (190 kilometers) to the east.


An Israeli backpacker was one of dozens killed in the earthquake that destroyed Christchurch, as well as its Chabad center.


The Israeli tourist, who has not yet been identified, was in a car with three other Israelis when a building collapsed on them, according to Chabad Rabbi Shmuel Friedman.


At least 100 others were believed to still be trapped in buildings Tuesday night in what Prime Minister John Key, the son of a Jewish refugee who escaped Europe to England on the eve of the Holocaust, said could be the nation's “darkest day”.


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 believes there could be up to 150 Israelis currently in Christchurch.


Friedman, a New York-born emissary at the Chabad House in Christchurch, was inside with an Israeli backpacker when the quake jolted the city just before 1p.m. local time.


“All of a sudden walls, ceilings started coming in on us, the shake was shifting us side to side,” said Friedman, who has been in the largest city on the South Island for less than three months. "We just ran. I have no idea how we managed to get out of there."


The Chabad House had the city’s only kosher cafe.


Friedman said he gathered about 60 Israelis, including the three survivors from the car, in Latimar Square in downtown Christchurch, where he offered counseling and support.


Approximately 2,000 of New Zealand’s 7,000 Jews live in Christchurch.

Related articles: (New Zealand, Earthquake, Chabad, Israel)

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