Photo: Chabad House
Israelis at Chabad House
Photo: Chabad House

Foreign Ministry works to evacuate Israelis after Nepal quake

Diplomats, emergency personnel aiding backpackers, tourists, and families of 24 surrogate babies in aftermath of deadly earthquake.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry opened a situation room to aid Israelis in Kathmandu after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on Saturday, with tremors felt in neighboring countries.



Several Israelis were lightly injured in the deadly earthquake in Nepal according to the Foreign Ministry. Hundreds of Israelis arrived at the Chabad House in Kathmandu, where some of them received medical treatment from backpackers who served as medics in the IDF and from local volunteers. They were later moved to the Israeli Embassy.


Some 250 Israelis have been designated as "out of reach" after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, according to the Foreign Ministry. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has conducted an assessment on the phone with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.


During the conversation, they agreed to send a search and rescue team which would include medical experts. They further decided to offer Israelis still in Nepal the means to return to Israel.


One Israeli was wounded when a motorcycle fell on him during the earthquake. He received initial treatment at the Chabad House and then taken to hospital to stitch the deep cuts in his legs, his father told Ynet.


Israelis at the Chabad House in Kathmandu (Courtesy)
Israelis at the Chabad House in Kathmandu (Courtesy)


Eliav Zakai, whose son Shahar is a backpacker stuck in a trek in Kyanjin Gompa in Nepal, said at least 13 Israelis and other nationals were stuck in the area in a village that was completely destroyed in the quake. Zakai said the Israelis, texting home using a satellite phone, reported some locals were killed from their group.


In addition to the Israeli backpackers, there are dozens of Israeli families currently in Nepal with 24 newborns babies, some premature, born to surrogate mothers, who are desperate to get their children out of the country.


A premature baby born from a surrogate Nepali mother to Israeli parents was in serious condition due to the lack of oxygen after the hospital she was hospitalized in suffered damage from the earthquake, but has since received oxygen and evacuated to the Israeli Embassy in stable condition.


One of the parents, Israeli musician Ohad Hitman, said that while parents were able to rescue their newborns from the NICU before its second floor collapsed, they were now without medicine or hot formula and needed help from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.


Israeli musician Ohad Hitman and his partner with their newborn premature twins in Nepal.
Israeli musician Ohad Hitman and his partner with their newborn premature twins in Nepal.


The Israeli Foreign Ministry's situation room in Kathmandu was working to help find alternative hospitals and provide oxygen for the Israeli couples and their newborns.


Bringing surrogacy babies home to Israel is a long and arduous process. Babies born to surrogate mothers in Nepal are considered Nepali citizens. Before the Israeli parents can bring their newborns to Israel, they need to undergo a DNA test to prove the baby's father is Israeli. The Israeli Embassy only then issues an Israeli passport for the baby.


Interior Minister Gilad Erdan instructed his ministry to cut all bureaucratic red tape to allow the babies to be brought to Israel as soon as possible.


Israeli Ambassador to Nepal, Yaron Meir, updated Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the situation of the embassy in Kathmandu following the earthquake.


Meir told the foreign minister that Israel's diplomats in the country were not harmed but the embassy building suffered damage, leading embassy staff to operate outside the building. Embassy personnel were also scouting the area on foot, as all the roads in Kathmandu were blocked, in search of Israelis who needed assistance.


Lieberman instructed his ministry to send reinforcement to the embassy in Kathmandu with staff from other embassies Israeli in the area and with Foreign Ministry staff from Israel as soon as the airport in Kathmandu resumes operations.


Israel will send a plane to evacuate Israelis from Nepal. Israeli insurance companies the Phoenix and Harel are also sending teams to the country, as well as Magen David Adom.


Israelis searching for their family and friends in the affected areas can call the Foreign Ministry's situation room in Jerusalem at: 02-5303155


Daniel Elfenbain from Ynet Radio contributed to this report. 


פרסום ראשון: 04.25.15, 16:42
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