Israeli criminal lawyer Avim Yariv, 39, is still missing after a rafting trip on the Zambezi River in Zambia ended in disaster on Tuesday. Yariv, the son of poet Hilat Yeshurun and grandson of the poet Avot Yeshurun, was rafting on the river with his two small children when a hippopotamus attacked his boat and flipped it over. While the children were saved by their floats, Yariv disappeared with the current.
“We are often attacked by hippopotami,” local tour guide Giora (Gigi) Levin said. “Luckily, we have had miraculous escapes until now.”
Hilik Magnus, of Magnus International Search and Rescue, was called in to help search for Yariv. “The locals told me that a hippo overturned the boat,” he said. “The river is wide and large. The water is murky, and no light gets through. You can't even see one centimeter deep, and this hinders the search.”
Magnus added, “Entering turbulent water is an act that requires a lot of skill and caution. It's important to stay close to local guides who can keep you out of danger.”
Levin said the river was extremely dangerous, and noted that he only ventured out accompanied by a local guide and wearing a life jacket. “I've been a guide in Africa for 30 years, and I know this river well,” he said. “All the rivers in Africa are dangerous. If there aren't hippopotami, there are alligators, or vice versa. You have to know how to go into a river like this in Africa. A hippopotamus is a huge mammal. A male can reach a weight of two tons.”
Levin said the children were lucky they were wearing life vests.