By COLlive reporter
Two 16-year-old Chabad girls have been reported missing on Motzoei Shabbos while on a Shabbaton trip with their class in Orlando, Florida.
Rivka Moshe and Brocha Katz, both students of Bais Chana High School, a division of the Lubavitch Educational Center of Miami, Florida, were last seen when they left for a walk on Shabbos afternoon, a relative said on social media.
Friends said the girls left Caribe Cove Resort by Wyndham Vacation Rentals in Kissimmee, where they were staying, at 3:00 pm and were supposed to return by 5:30 pm, but hours later they had still not returned.
This Caribbean-themed resort has Old Lake Davenport nearby and is surrounded by green woods. The area is called Four Corners, also known as Citrus Ridge.
Police are currently searching the area with helicopters and search dogs, the girls’ friends said.
Rabbi Benjy Korf, executive director of Lubavitch Educational Center in Miami, said “all authorities and resources are being used to finding these two girls.”
Korf added, “at the present time, the police and authorities on site have asked everyone not to interfere. If, and as soon as we need volunteers, we will put out a call and ask.”
Osceola County Sheriff’s Office is leading the search efforts. The case was also reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and an official Amber Alert was issued for missing persons.
“Full resources are being dedicated to this search,” a person involved said. “Police dogs are hot in their trail and the trail remains hot and in progress. Preliminary information so far indicates no evidence of foul play and fits a pattern of someone lost in an area where most of the buildings and surroundings look the same.”
The person said “there remains concern why they have not called anyone.”
Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to call Police or Hatzalah: 305-919-4900.
The public is asked to say Tehillim for Bracha Tefillah bas Yisraelis Rivka and Rivkah bas Tzipporah. Join the Tehillim effort at http://tehilimyahad.com/mr.jsp?r=LeJWSF9E9R
UPDATE (1:09 AM):
Florida State Police have taken over the investigation from the city police.
Hatzalah volunteer medical service are working with them and should be on the ground in an hour, people involved in the case told COLlive.com.
40 local women have spontaneously gathered for a Hakhel event to say Tehillim and pray for the safety and speedy return of the girls.
Update 2:30 AM:
Chabad mobilized a team of 50 volunteers (and counting). Waiting for instructions from local authorities, local Shliach Rabbi Sholom Dubov reports.
Volunteers will begin distributing ‘Missing Person’ flyers – canvassing the entire area. Teams from Daytona and Palm City have arrived.
“The police are overwhelmed with the amount of people who showed up and as of yet haven’t let them in area,” one of the volunteers on the ground reported.
Update 3:30 AM:
Team of volunteers leave command center to canvas six mile radius with ‘missing person’ flyers.
Update 4:30 AM:
6 Chabad search teams canvassed a 2-mile area of all open businesses. Search continues at daylight. South Florida team arrives.
The sheriff’s office said a ‘FLIR’ equipped helicopter searched nearby woods earlier and no heat signature was detected. Search will resume soon.
Update: 9:00 AM:
The boys school of Lubavitch Educational Center in Miami will be gathering for Tehillim this morning.
Volunteers are being called to help widen the search in the surrounding Orlando area. Volunteers are arriving from the area, various Chabad centers, and from as far as New York.
To volunteer contact Mendy Levy 305-342-6665
Update: 9:48 AM:
Sheriff’s office official briefing expected soon, will advise on scope of search needed.