Itongadol.- The body of Or Asraf, the only Israeli killed in the devastating April 25 earthquake in Nepal, was returned to Israel on Tuesday, accompanied by his father and former IDF comrades who helped search for him.
Body of sole Israeli killed in Nepal quake returned to Israel
The body of the 22-year-old was located on Sunday morning, in the vicinity of Bamboo Village, close to the Langtang nature trail in the north of the country. The earthquake, which registered 7.8 on the Richter Scale, killed some 7,000 people and laid waste to massive areas of Nepal.
"We won the battle but we lost the war," said Or\’s father, Patrick, said upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport together with his son\’s friends from the Egoz unit.
Patrick Asraf and the IDF soldiers traveled to Nepal last week in order to repatriate Or, who fought alongside his comrades in the Gaza war last year. Or\’s mother had been photographed standing at the airport holding a banner asking Israelis returning from the country for information about her son.
"The objective was clear: We are bringing Or home," Patrick said. "When we arrived in the area, we realized the task would be extremely complex if even possible at all. The area had suffered a terrible earthquake. It looked like an atomic bomb had been dropped. It was a ravine that was inescapable on both sides. The area was simply destroyed."
He said that his son\’s body had been found just 100 meters from an area from where he could have been rescued.
"When it caught him, it happened in a split second and he had no chance," said Patrick. "This is a dangerous place with falling stones, but we wanted to bring Or home no matter what."
During the searches for Or, Patrick and the team encountered trekkers who had survived the quake. "We never lost hope for one moment, because people had come out alive even five days later," he said.
Patrick embraced his son\’s friends at the airport and thanked them for traveling to the end of the earth to bring their friend home.
"It is symbolic that his friends in the unit, who stand here with me, acted out of camaraderie and even as they endangered their own lives," he said. "I am proud of the State of Israel that sent a rescue team and more, when bigger countries did not even send one rescuer."
During his military service, Or Asraf served in the IAF\’s Sayaret Shaldag commando unit and in Egoz, a unit in the Golani Briagde. He took part in Operation Protective Edge, and was moderately wounded in fighting in the Saja\’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City. He left the army following his recovery and had gone traveling in the Far East with members of his unit.
His funeral will take place at 5pm on Thursday at the cemetery in Lahavim.