Over 300 Israelis have returned home from earthquake-ravaged Nepal, including 25 infants born to surrogate mothers. Some 11 Israelis remain unaccounted for following Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude quake centered near Kathmandu.
Meanwhile, an airplane carrying an Israeli field hospital and 260 personnel landed in Kathmandu on Tuesday following delays due to weather and the condition of the runway in the capital. The hospital, which will have the ability to treat 20 people a day, was expected to be operational by the next morning.
Israeli search-and-rescue teams began trying to reach about 80 Israeli hikers trapped in remote areas throughout the country, including in Langtang National Park, using rented and borrowed helicopters.
Two Israelis reportedly refused to be evacuated from Nepal, saying they wished to stay and help the locals.
The death toll from the quake and resulting avalanche has risen to above 5,00 and could climb as high as 10,000 Nepalese officials said.
On Tuesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman spoke with his Nepalese counterpart and conveyed the condolences of the Israeli people on the great loss of life in Saturday’s earthquake, according to the Foreign Ministry. He also thanked Nepal Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey for Nepalese assistance in rescuing stranded Israelis.
Pandey thanked Liberman on behalf of his people for the aid being sent from Israel, the statement said.
Eerlier inthe week, two Jewish-American men who were hiking together in Nepal during the earthquake contacted their families.
Danny Cole, 39, a father of four from Crown Heights, New York, and Mendy Losh, 38, originally from Crown Heights and now living in Los Angeles, were hiking in Nepal and believed to be on a trail below the Everest base camp when the earthquake struck, triggering avalanches in the area.
Cole and Losh said it took them two days of moving from village to village in the area to find a way to contact the outside world.
“Our families are in contact with them and we are working towards bringing them home safely,” said Moshe Schreiber, a family spokesman for both men. “We thank the many people and organizations who have worked tirelessly on behalf of Danny and Mendy during this difficult time. We wish them continued blessing and success in their selfless efforts to help the countless others in need of aid.”
At least four Americans have been killed in the earthquake and its resulting avalanches and aftershocks, including a Jewish Google executive, Dan Fredinburg.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that it had opened its doors to 150 Israelis in Nepal seeking shelter.
An Israeli rescue team saved four Israelis from Mount Everest, where they had been trapped by the earthquake that has devastated Nepal.
A rescue team sent to Nepal by Harel, an Israeli insurance company, brought the Israeli hikers, who are in good health, to safety on Monday, the Times of Israel reported.