Rescuer praises 'bold, wise' decision on missing Nepal trekker

Veteran rescuer Hilik Magnus praises Chief Rabbinate decision to declare Nepal trekker a 'dead person whose burial place is unknown.'

Arutz Sheva Staff,


A few days ago the Chief Rabbinate took a rare decision and declared trekker Amit Reichman a "dead person whose burial place is unknown," after he failed to return from a trek in Nepal last October.

The rescuer who led the team searching for the body of Amit Reichman says that the rabbinate decision to declare him a dead person whose burial place is unknown is "a bold, wise and intelligent decision which is based on halakha and must be respected."

Hilik Magnus, who led a team which attempted to locate and rescue Reichman said that the search had been very comprehensive and in very difficult terrain and there was no chance that Reichman had survived there.

Magnus, who has led a number of similar rescue attempts in the past, said that "the searches went on for 24 days on the face of a mountain. The searches were in tough terrain on a promontory rising to 5000-7000 meters and the slopes on either side were 2000-3000 meters high and very steep, with ice and snow above and a thick jungle below which was unpassable. Every team received a satellite device which pointed out where each person was located. The search was in a very defined area and we spent 24 days searching, which gave us a clear picture of what happened, but in order to find him we would have had to wait a long time until the snow melted."

Magnus said that he had gathered a lot of evidence and data and "it was clear beyond doubt that Amit did not survive there. " The last people to meet Reichman were a very experienced tour guide and a German couple. It was 3:30 in the afternoon and he was ascending. They told him that if was too late and he would not manage but he insisted on ascending to the highest point and would return as well.

"They returned to the guesthouse and he didn't. After two days an Israeli trekker noticed and summoned us to begin searches."

Magnus said that even after the snow melted Reichman hadn't been found because "people only go on the trail there" and Reichman must have left the trail to find shelter in the cold and darkness." He added that there are thousands of such shelter spots and the chances of finding Reichman are small as there are lots of predators and eagles in the area and it is unlikely his body would remain untouched."

Magnus said the rabbinate decision had not been taken easily and involved a detailed investigation of the matter but added that "the decision should be respected as it demonstrates the powerful abilities of the Chief Rabbinical Court and Rabbi Lau who heads the court."