Israel to Send New Zealand Emergency Equipment, Temporary Shelters

Prime Minister Netanyahu responds to Wellington's request for aid to cope with the devastation in Christchurch wrought by Tuesday's earthquake.

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New Zealand's government requested aid from Israel in the form of sanitation, water purification equipment and temporary shelters, Prime Minister Netanyahu's office said on Saturday night, after a massive earthquake struck the city of Christchurch on Tuesday.

Netanyahu gave instructions to immediately answer the call for help.

Cars lie crushed under a fallen building in central Christchurch following Tuesday's earthquake, February 26, 2011.Credit: Reuters

The 6.3 magnitude quake struck at lunchtime, when streets and shops thronged with people and offices were still occupied in Christchurch, a historic tourist town popular with overseas students. The official earthquake death toll currently stands at 145 human lives, but hopes that some of the 200 or so people listed as missing might still be saved are starting to dissipate.

The Foreign Ministry said that as of Saturday night, there are still 9 Israeli citizens who are known to have been traveling in New Zealand at the time of the earthquake, but whose whereabouts are still unknown.

The list of nine Israelis includes Ofer Mizrachi, who friends have stated that he died when the vehicle in which he sat was crushed by falling debris, and two youths from Rehovot, Gabby Ingel and Ofer Levi, who according to the Israeli rescue team Magnus were sighted in the area of the crash about 20 minutes before the quake struck.

Anne Bodkin, removed from the ruins of the PGC building in central Christchurch on Wednesday, was the last person that was found alive in the devastation that was caused by the massive earthquake that struck the city.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who visited the site of the earthquake over the weekend and met with the families of some of the victims, asked of all New Zealanders to stand for a minute of silence on Tuesday at 12:51 P.M., exactly one week to the minute after the earthquake occurred.

"This may be New Zealand's single-most tragic event," Key said, calling for citizens to remember those that lost their lives, those still missing, and those families and friends that are mourning their loved ones.