earthquake - Alon Ron - February 24 2011
Friends of Ofer Mizrachi: Michal Friedman, Liron Sadeh, Guy Yurdan. Photo by Alon Ron
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Three friends of Ofer Mizrachi, the young Israeli that went missing in New Zealand, returned to Israel on Thursday and spoke of the difficult moments they experienced during the earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand.

Guy Yurdan, Mizrachi's travel mate for the last several months, said he wanted to let all those who are concerned for Mizrachi's life and are hoping for a miracle to know that he is no longer alive.

"He did not suffer, he died on the spot, and his body is awaiting identification," Yurdan said. "New Zealand authorities are delaying the process."

A strong earthquake killed at least 65 people in Christchurch, New Zealand's second-biggest city, on Tuesday, with more casualties expected as rescuers continue to find scores of people trapped inside collapsed buildings. It was the second quake to hit the city of almost 400,000 people in five months, and New Zealand's most deadly natural disaster for 80 years.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the government may send an aid envoy to Christchurch to help with rescue efforts to save those trapped in the rubble as well as assistance to Israelis who are there.

Yurdan described what the four Israeli friends – Michal Friedman, Liron Sadeh, Mizrachi and himself – experienced at the moment that the quake struck. "We were sitting in the van, eating, and then the earthquake happened," he said.

"The van started to shake, we didn't understand what was going on," Yudan explained. "Ofer was the first to grab a hold of himself and said that it was an earthquake and that we had to get out of the van right away."

Yurdan continued, "As we started to get out of the van, a huge heavy chunk of concrete fell on us. Ofer was in the driver's seat and I was sitting beside him. I saw that the women sitting in the back of the van had gotten out, and then I looked at Ofer and saw that he was hit. I grabbed him and saw that he had head wounds. I realized that he was killed instantly."

According to Yurdan, when the ground stopped shaking, "I broke the window, got out of the van, and called for help, but we were made to leave the area because the nearby building began to collapse. Later we were evacuated to a public park, to a tent of the Red Cross."

Michal Friedman said, "Liron and I arrived in New Zealand on Sunday and met Gal and Ofer after we ended a long tour of Australia. We were very excited and they shared in our excitement."

Friedman continued, "Ofer was very moved and said, 'Now we're starting on a new adventure.' We planned to travel together for one-and-a-half or two months." Of the exact moments of the earthquake, Friedman described them as "a situation in which you have no idea what is transpiring."

Kibbutz Magal Secretary Smadar Katz said that the friends only returned this morning after several sleepless nights and a long flight. According to Katz, "They are traumatized. This morning they met Ofer's parents and told them what happened. These are difficult days for Kibbutz Magal."