300 Israelis return home from earthquake-ravaged Nepal

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Over 300 Israelis have returned home from earthquake-ravaged Nepal, including 25 infants born to surrogate mothers.

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.

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Some 11 Israelis remain unaccounted for following Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude quake centered near Kathmandu.

The death toll from the quake and resulting avalanche has risen to above 5,000 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.