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An Israeli lawyer disappeared in Zambia on Tuesday during a rafting trip on the Zambezi River, and there is growing fear for his life.

Avim Yariv, 39, was on a boat with his two children when a hippopotamus flipped their boat over. Yariv is the son of poet, editor and translator Hilit Yeshurun and grandson of the poet Avot Yeshurun.

A Foreign Ministry official said Yariv's daughter fell into the crocodile-infested river, and Yariv jumped in to save her. The girl was brought to safety but Yariv disappeared.

Israel has no permanent diplomatic representative in Zambia. The Israeli consul in Kenya will travel there to assist the search efforts. The Foreign Ministry is also in contact with Zambian authorities.

Family members said yesterday that Hilit Yeshurun left for Zambia to be with the children, while Yariv's brother flew to the area where the lawyer went missing.

Hilik Magnus of Magnus International Search & Rescue said the family had contacted the company shortly after Avim Yariv disappeared and asked for help in searching for him. The company's man was told by local residents that the Yariv family's boat had been flipped over by a hippo, and Yariv was swept away by the current and disappeared.

"Our man told the family the truth - there wasn't much we could do. Anyone swept away in that river is in grave danger and would be very hard to find. We spoke to people there to get a broader picture but that was the end of it," Magnus said.

"Every pond or river in Africa is dangerous," said Giora Levin, the Geographical Tours' Africa guide. "The danger could come from a hippo, crocodile, bilharzia or all three. The Zambezi River is an amazing place, but you have be with a local guide who knows the place's secrets," he said.