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Daily Israel Report

Missing Guma Aguiar's Family, Friends 'Expect Miracle'

Concern is rising for the fate of Guma Aguiar after his overturned motorboat washed ashore in Florida Wednesday without its owner aboard.
By Chana Ya'ar and David Lev
First Publish: 6/21/2012, 1:32 PM

Guma Aguiar
Guma Aguiar
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Concern is rising for the fate of Guma Aguiar after his overturned motorboat washed ashore Wednesday at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, without its owner aboard.

Search and rescue teams are continuing their efforts to locate the missing Brazilian-born energy industrialist, who apparently had set sail despite bad weather warnings. The Coast Guard launched a search after being alerted by his wife when he failed to return by nightfall.

"We are extremely worried about his fate,” said Jacob Liraz, board member of Hapoel Jerusalem. “We expect a miracle that he will be found safe and sound,” he added in his statement, made to reporters Thursday morning.

Liraz said that every morning the two would speak about the group's activities, and yesterday when he didn't hear from him, he became concerned.

More than 24 hours after his boat washed ashore without him, police in Florida say that have no idea what happened to the Jewish philanthropist. Web sites in Florida overnight Wednesday said that initial investigations by police indicated that the boat had sustained damage that could have been caused by high winds. Police did not officially comment on those reports.

Searches for Aguiar continued throughout the night, and as the sun rose Thursday morning police said they would send out helicopters and boats, expanding the search for him. However, a police official cautioned, the longer Aguiar is missing, the less likely it is that he will be found alive.

Aguiar, one of the owners of the Hapoel Jerusalem soccer team, is a widely-respected philanthropist who has donated to numerous Torah institutions and yeshivas in Israel.  In addition, he owns several businesses in Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron), including one for the production of organic agricultural products.  He splits his time between living in the United States and Israel.