By COLlive reporter
The children of Rabbi Chezky and Chani Lifshitz, Chabad Shluchim in Nepal in the midst of recue efforts following the earthquake, have safely arrived in Israel on Tuesday.
They will be staying with their grandparents in the city of Rechovot as their parents continue to offer shelter, food and support to the many Israeli and Jewish backpackers affected by the disaster.
“Chabad is serving hot meals to all comers every hour on the hour,” Mrs. Lifshitz updated on Facebook, noting that supplies are rapidly dwindling. “Kathmandu looks like a ghost town. Our electricity, phone service and water have been cut off, and little by little, our staples are running out.”
Relief efforts are taking on a renewed urgency as many residents in Kathmandu and other areas are sleeping outside on dirt, gravel, anywhere—away from broken, teetering buildings.
Rain is forecast for the city, with temperatures likely to dip into the 50s overnight. Temperatures elsewhere in the country, such as up at the mountain base camps where hikers gather, hover at around 30 degrees.
Chabad has also established a 20-man team to search the bodies for Israelis who may have been killed in the earthquake, although as of now there are no Israelis known to have died in the disaster.
Local residents across Nepal have started to stack bodies for burning in an effort to stem an outbreak of disease, without first coordinating with the Nepalese authorities.
To help with the earthquake relief effort, visit the special relief fund page: www.chabad.org/nepal.
10 PEOPLE RESCUED
On Tuesday members of Israel’s Joint Disaster Response Team rescued ten Israelis stranded at the Kopan Monastery just outside of the hard-hit capital of Kathmandu.
The Israeli team was comprised of the volunteer rescue organizations ZAKA, United Hatzolah and F.I.R.S.T, and completed its rescue mission at the monastery just a day after touching down in Nepal.
In order to reach the monastery, the team used jeeps from the Kathmandu Chabad House. The travelers were in good health but traumatized by their ordeal, and on the journey back to the Chabad House from where they will fly back to Israel, they contacted their worried families.
“Thank you for coming to rescue us!,” said one of the rescued Israelis in a video. “We are fine…at the moment we have everything we need. We just want to know how we will get home, on which flight and when. Thank you for coming.”
ZAKA’s rescue efforts were not limited to stranded Israeli tourists, however.
The team came across a distraught daughter whose father had been trapped in a collapsed building. Video shows how the team sought to calm the daughter and learn where her father was.
After rescuing the trapped father and disentangling him from the rubble, the crew spoke to Nepalese military, identifying themselves as an Israeli rescue crew and offering their services to help in whatever efforts were needed.
The Joint Disaster Response Team’s efforts are being coordinated with the Israel Embassy in Kathmandu, as well as with the Nepalese army.
“The scale of the disaster here is huge, entire streets have collapsed and there are many injured,” said ZAKA International Rescue Unit head Mati Goldstein.
“Our first mission is to rescue those Israelis who have yet to make contact with their families. We are concentrating on this, while at the same time we aim to assist in those outlying villages where no rescue team has reached.”
“We have connected with the local army, which gives us the possibility to reach every place and operate there. Our joint response team of ZAKA, United Hatzolah and F.I.R.S.T. is able to contribute significantly to the Nepalese army’s search and rescue mission, thanks to our professional expertise and experience gained in other mass casualty natural disasters in the region,” he added.