21-year-old Aya Na’amneh, an Israeli student who went missing in the Ethiopian desert, in an undated photo. (Courtesy Na’amneh family)

Aya Na’amneh was hiking with other students from Haifa’s Technion when they realized she was gone

timesofisrael – Search teams were dispatched to Ethiopia’s Danakil Desert Saturday after a 21-year-old Israeli student was reported missing in the area that morning.

The student, Aya Na’amneh of the northern town of Arraba, was part of a group of students of Haifa’s Technion Institute of Technology who were visiting the country as a delegation and were on a hike in the desert.

The Foreign Ministry said Na’amneh had apparently been separated from the group. Authorities were alerted to her disappearance after she failed to arrive at a gathering point. Her insurance was activated and the Foreign Ministry was informed, and private search teams were sent in cooperation with local police and military forces to try and locate her.

Officials said Na’amneh had been missing for long hours in temperatures of 50°C (120°F) and were highly concerned for her safety.

Na’amneh’s father Salim said to Channel 12 news he was told that on that morning the Israelis “went to one of the villages there. The way was long and it was very hot. In the middle of the trip some of the group felt tired and they decided to split up, as some wanted to go back to the bus. When they got to the bus one of the students asked where’s Aya. They thought she was in another car and when they realized she wasn’t there they understood she was missing.”

The Technion said students had completed a four-week academic course with other foreign students in the city of Mekelle earlier in the week, and had decided to stay for several more days. It said the trip was privately organized. The school said faculty and staff were in contact with the family and the Foreign Ministry and following developments closely.

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