Over a week since Nepal was devastated by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, a raft of search-and-rescue teams are still trying to find 22-year-old Or Assraf, the only Israeli known to be in the country with whom contact has not been made.
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“I’m trying to stay optimistic even though Or has not cooperated and has not turned up as we had hoped,” Assraf’s mother, Orit Assraf, told Haaretz on Saturday.
She noted that she had spoken with her husband, Patrick Assraf, who flew to Nepal last week with Israeli rescue teams. “We know exactly where Or is supposed to be, and apparently the search has to be more precise. How exactly, that’s up to the professionals,” she said.
“There is a high degree of complexity on the ground like crevasses and dangerous topography, but we’re very optimistic. We very much believe in Or’s strength, and we believe we’ll find him in the next two days.”
The family lives in Lehavim, a town in the northern Negev.
Yechiel Magnus, whose company Magnus International Search & Rescue is taking part in the search effort, says the area where Assraf is believed to be has been narrowed to six square kilometers. Magnus says that while that information is not complete, it came from very reliable sources.
“It could be that new information not yet in our possession could change the picture,” he said. Magnus confirmed that the search area was very challenging, and that the teams faced many difficulties.
“Rocks and earth continue to fall” in the landslides that have affected mountainous regions since the earthquake, Magnus said. He added that two bodies were found in the area Saturday morning — a Dutch man and a Nepalese man.
Clal Insurance’s search-and-rescue company said in a statement that on Sunday the various teams would reevaluate the situation and adjust their efforts.
Some Israeli military personnel who flew to Nepal last week are expected to return to Israel on Sunday, but according to the IDF Spokesman’s Unit, the efforts to find Assraf are continuing, in part in cooperation with the Nepalese military.
The IDF’s field hospital in Nepal will also continue to operate, and members of the IDF delegation will continue to carry out search, rescue and medical operations.