February 22, 2011, Updated September 12, 2012

Following the devastating earthquake in Christchurch today, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Foreign Ministry offered aid in the form of search and rescue equipment, medicine, food and emergency disaster supplies. The New Zealand government said that it would consider the proposal.

Israel is well-known for the relief delegations it sends to help victims of manmade and natural disasters around the world.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck New Zealand’s second largest city toppled tall buildings and churches, crushed buses and killed at least 65 people in one of the country’s worst natural disasters.

It was the second major quake to hit Christchurch, a city of 350,000, in five months. More than 200 people are thought to be trapped in the rubble.

According to Israel Radio, there are fears that an Israeli man may be among those killed in the quake. There are an estimated 120 Israelis living or traveling in Christchurch, only some of which have been successfully contacted.

The Foreign Ministry said that the Israeli consulate general in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, has travelled to Christchurch to find Israelis that were caught in the quake and need help.

According to the ministry, the deputy prime minister and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke with New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully and expressed Israel’s condolences.

Meanwhile, the Chabad-Lubavitch’s website has reported that the natural disaster toppled Christchurch’s central Chabad center. Rabbi Shmuel Freedman, who moved to the New Zealand city three months ago to co-direct the Chabad headquarters, said he and other personnel were inside the center when the earthquake hit.

“We all ran out as it was falling down, but thank God everybody is okay,” he said from Latimar Square, where Jewish families had congregated to search for survivors. “We are getting everybody together now at the square to see if anybody is missing, and we are working very hard to help everybody.”


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