Image: Rubble in Christchurch, New Zealand
Martin Hunter  /  AP
An excavator works this month on clearing rubble in downtown Christchurch, New Zealand.
msnbc.com
updated 7/20/2011 10:17:28 PM ET 2011-07-21T02:17:28

One of the victims of the February earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand was suspected to have been an Israeli spy, according to a report in The Southland Times.

The man, Ofer Benyamin Mizrahi, 24, was carrying five passports with him at the time of his death, according to the Times. The newspaper's reports centered around a possible breach of New Zealand's national police computers. The Times said  police and the nation's Security Intelligence Service were investigating

Story: Aftershocks Pose Major Obstacles to Rebuilding New Zealand City

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, who was in Los Angeles Tuesday, initially declined to comment on the report, but later confirmed that New Zealand police and security intelligence officials investigated the allegations, reported The Southland Times.

Key said no link could be found between the group of Israelis and the Mossad.

Mizrahi was one of three Israelis who died in the Feb. 22 earthquake, according to the Israeli media outlet Haaretz. Around 120 Israelis were living in the area around Christchurch at the time of the 6.3 magnitude quake, which destroyed most of the central business district in the southern city of Christchurch.

Mizrahi and three other people were in a van that was crushed by a falling pillar. Mizrahi was killed, but the others were able to extricate themselves, the Times said.

Mizrahi's three companions, one man and two women, photographed the crushed van and rendezvoused at a city square that Israeli officials had designated an "emergency meeting point," then were able to travel back to Israel within 12 hours, The Southland Times said.

New Zealand authorities later confronted an "unaccredited Israeli search and rescue squad" and removed it from the sealed-off area in the city, the Times said. This squad was one of two private search parties brought from Israel to New Zealand, without prior coordination with local authorities in New Zealand, Haaretz reported.

Story: Russia expels Israeli diplomat over spying

Israel's ambassador to the South Pacific region, Shemi Tzur said the spy reports were "science fiction," The Southland Times said.

New Zealand police say they are confident their computer system is secure.,

Adding to the intrigue is a comment posted on the website of Pravda, a Russian newspaper. The comment said the earthquake disrupted an Israeli spy base in Christchurch.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Video: Prince visits New Zealand earthquake city

  1. Transcript of: Prince visits New Zealand earthquake city

    SARA JAMES reporting: Good morning, Meredith . In what is likely to be Prince William 's final overseas trip before his upcoming April wedding to Kate Middleton , he arrived in Christchurch , New Zealand , today. The prince's visit was a welcome relief for the people here who are struggling to recover from last month's devastating earthquake. Prince William 's first stop in Christchurch , the emergency management center, to meet with civil defense workers still hard at work in the aftermath of last month's killer earthquake here. As a Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter pilot, the prince knows first hand the stress and pressure these workers face.

    Prince WILLIAM: Without all the help that you guys have been doing, it could be a lot worse.

    JAMES: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the prince's visit is a powerful tonic for a beleaguered city.

    Mayor BOB PARKER: You cannot say thank you more powerfully than when it comes from the lips of a prince.

    JAMES: A somber Prince William also took a trip through what's known as the red zone, this city's ground zero.

    Prince WILLIAM: It's just the scale of it is so unbelievable.

    JAMES: One hundred and sixty-six people are known to have died in the quake on February 22nd , but the number is expected to rise. In a separate meeting with families of victims from a mining disaster, there was an emotional moment as the prince was reminded of his own loss.

    Unidentified Man #1: And we know that you also have had tragic times in your past with your mom, Princess Diana .

    JAMES: While Prince William did not bring fiancee Kate Middleton on this trip, his upcoming wedding was on the minds of many here. Shirley Skinner brought her daughters to have a peek at the young man in line to be king.

    Ms. SHIRLEY SKINNER: Sophie was born in England . She thinks she's a princess. So it's exciting for her to see a prince, a real live one .

    JAMES: Mayor Parker says the prince's decision to come to New Zealand just six weeks before his own big day makes this visit especially welcome.

    Mayor PARKER: Instead of having a stag party, he's come down here to Christchurch .

    JAMES: What's more, when Prince William weds Kate Middleton on the 29th of April, the couple has suggested that in lieu of gifts, guests can donate to specially chosen charities, including the Christchurch Relief Effort .

    Unidentified Man #2: It's a great morale booster here for us in Christchurch because, you know, we've been through a lot of tough things.

    JAMES: But on this day, perhaps the greatest gift was the presence of a prince. And tomorrow Prince William will represent his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II , at a memorial service that will be remembering the victims who died in the earthquake and that service will take place at a lovely park here in Christchurch just a short distance from where I'm standing. Meredith , back to you.

Photos: 6.3 quake rocks New Zealand city

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  1. Grant Smith, second from left, is assisted as he walks behind the coffin of his 9-month-old son, Jayden Harris, in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 2. Jayden was killed on Feb. 22 when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch. (Mark Mitchell / New Zealand Herald via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. People battle high winds and dust in Christchurch on March 1, as the silt caused from soil liquefaction after the quake dried out. (Brett Phibbs / New Zealand Herald via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Urban Search and Rescue workers from Japan, New Zealand, China and Australia at Cathedral Square observe two minutes of silence at 12.51pm local time to mark the time of last week's Christchurch earthquake, March 1. (Cameron Spencer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Students work in the suburb of Shirley to clear away silt caused as a result of liquefaction on March 1 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Phil Walter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Mourners at the funeral for Joe Pohio follow the casket to the Kaiti Atua Cemetery for a burial service on March 1 in Kaiapoi, New Zealand. Joe Pohio was killed from falling debris after coming to the aid of a woman in the Christchurch City Food Court after the earthquake struck. (Phil Walter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Cattle graze in a flooded field discoloured by mineral contamination on the outskirts of Christchurch on Feb. 27. (Torsten Blackwood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Liquefaction engulfs the tomb of Rhoda Toomer in the historic Barbadoes Street Cemetery, on Feb. 26 in Christchurch. (Torsten Blackwood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Rev. Philip Robinson holds a service outside the St. Barnabas Church in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. The church sustained minor damage after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the city Tuesday, Feb 22. (Rob Griffith / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Ray Shearman takes a break from cleaning the silt from his yard in the suburb of Bexley on Feb. 26, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Cameron Spencer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Brent Smith and his family watch as their earthquake-damaged house is demolished in Christchurch, Saturday, Feb. 26. Violent aftershocks from the Feb. 22 magnitude-6.3 quake hampered desperate efforts to find survivors. (Tim Wimborne / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Cars lie crushed under a fallen building in central Christchurch, Feb. 26. (Pool / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Neighbors check on a damaged house on Cashel Street on Feb. 2, in Christchurch. (Hannah Johnston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Newlyweds Emma Howard and Chris Greenslade cheer for a group photo after their wedding on Friday, just days after she was pulled from the rubble of the earthquake devastated Pyne Gould Corporation in Christchurch. (Mark Baker / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A large crack runs down a road in Christchurch on Friday. (Marty Melville / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A car lies buried by rubble on Friday in the port town of Lyttelton, which was the epicenter of the 6.3 earthquake. (Torsten Blackwood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Debrah Moore and her children gather in front of their tent after their house was made unliveable by Tuesday's earthquake, in a beach-side suburb of Christchurch on Friday. (Tim Wimborne / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Tristan Webb stands in a large hole along River Road, Avonside in Christchurch. (Martin Hunter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Jacob Baymon gives free apples to a cyclist on Ferry Road on Feb. 24 in Christchurch. (Hannah Johnston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Relatives of missing Japanese students walk to a bus after arriving at Christchurch airport on Feb. 25. Many Japanese students of an international English language school are still unaccounted for after the quake. (Mark Baker / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Members of Canterbury University volunteer army clean up mud on Feb. 24 in Christchurch. The quake caused liquefaction of the ground. (Martin Hunter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A suburban street is covered with silt forced out of the ground by liquefaction. (Torsten Blackwood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Rescuers stand at the smoking ruins of the CTV building in Christchurch on Feb. 24; dozens of people are feared buried there. (Marty Melville / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Luxury homes stand on the edge of a landslide in Sumner, a suburb southeast of Christchurch on Feb. 24. (Torsten Blackwood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. The Grand Chancellor Hotel, which authorities expect to collapse, is seen in central Christchurch on Feb. 24. (Simon Baker / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. The QE2 Stadium's track and field are damaged with silt forced out of the ground by liquefaction. (Torsten Blackwood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Members of the Japan Disaster Relief Team line up as they board their flight to New Zealand at Narita international airport east of Tokyo on Feb. 23. (Toru Hanai / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A rescue worker looks for signs of life in the rubble of the CTV building on Feb. 23. (Simon Baker / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. A woman is pulled from the rubble on Feb. 23. (Marlborough Express / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. The four-story Pyne Gould Corporation building lies in ruin in central Christchurch, Feb. 23. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. A resident walks through the center of Lyttelton, near Christchurch on Feb. 24. (Mark Baker / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. A giant boulder sits below a house that it went through near Lyttleton on the outskirts of Christchurch on Feb. 24. (Mark Baker / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Two men celebrate after being pulled out from a destroyed building in Christchurch on Feb. 23. (John Kirk-Anderson / Christchurch Press via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Murray and Kelly James look at their destroyed house in central Christchurch on Feb. 23. (Mark Baker / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. A man is escorted by a rescue worker after being pulled from a destroyed building in Christchurch on Feb. 23. (John Kirk-Anderson / Christchurch Press via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Rescue workers surround the Canterbury TV building in Christchurch on Feb. 23. (Hannah Johnston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. A rail line buckled by the shifting earth is pictured in Christchurch on Feb. 23. (Marty Melville / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Tourists shelter at the Salvation Army centre at Cowles Stadium in Christchurch on Wednesday. (Tracey Nearmy / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A rescue worker uses a thermal imaging camera to search for signs of life in the Pyne Gould Guinness building in central Christchurch on Wednesday. (Simon Baker / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. A rescue worker guides survivor Ann Bodkin out of the destroyed Pyne Gould Guinness building in Christchurch on Wednesday. (Rob Griffith / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. An aerial view of emergency services people working at the ruined CTV building in central Christchurch Wednesday. Search teams used their bare hands, dogs, heavy cranes and earth movers to pull survivors from the rubble of Tuesday's powerful earthquake. (Sarah Ivey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Fifteen-year-old Kent Manning, left, and his sister Libby, 18, pictured with their father, who asked not to identified, after they were told by police on Wednesday that there was no hope of finding Kent and Libby's mother alive in the collapsed CTV building. (Rob Griffith / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. A fuel tanker sits abandoned and blocked by fallen rubble on a main road between Lyttelton Township and Christchurch on Wednesday. (Sarah Ivey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. The Timeball Station is seen to be badly damaged, a day after the 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the township of Lyttelton near Christchurch on Wednesday. (Sarah Ivey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A vehicle is stuck in liquification in a street after a magnitude 6.3 earthquake in Christchurch on Wednesday. (Dianne Manson / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Icebergs caved into Tasman Lake as a result of the 6.3 earthquake on Tuesday. The New Zealand Herald newspaper reported that 30 million tons of ice broke free from the Tasman Glacier in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. The Christchurch Catholic Cathedral was extensively damaged by the earthquake on Tuesday. (David Wethey / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. Rescue workers search for earthquake survivors at the collapsed CTV building in Christchurch on Tuesday. (Carys Monteath / Christchurch Press via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. Survivors wait in Latimer Square in Christchurch's central business district, hoping recuers will locate friends and family buried beneath the rubble on Tuesday. A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck 12 miles southeast of Christchurch at around 1 p.m. local time. (Lisa Wiltse / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. A schoolgirl cries in central Christchurch on Tuesday. (A.j. Sisco / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. A man holds a child in his arms after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on Tuesday. (Iain McGregor / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  51. A man is seen after being pulled from the rubble. (Iain McGregor / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  52. Rescue workers and a helicopter work to extinguish a fire at a collapsed building in the city center. (Mark Mitchell / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  53. Trapped people broke windows in preparation of their rescue from a high-rise building in central Christchurch. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  54. A woman is pulled from the rubble. (Iain McGregor / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  55. Two women hug each other in front of a collapsed building in central Christchurch. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  56. A police officer talks to a woman trapped in the city's damaged cathedral after the earthquake. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  57. People are evacuated from a health clinic in Christchurch. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  58. A collapsed building covers parked cars in the aftermath of the earthquake. (Logan McMillan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  59. The suburb of Bexley is flooded following the earthquake. (Mark Mitchell / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  60. Debris from collapsed buildings crushed cars and littered the streets after the earthquake. (Martin Hunter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  61. Rescuers search for survivors in a collapsed building. (Martin Hunter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  62. A woman is rescued from inside a building after Tuesday's earthquake. (Richard Cosgrove / Christchurch Press via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  63. Debris from the collapsed tower of Christchurch cathedral is seen after the earthquake Tuesday. (Don Scott / Christchurch Press via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  64. Editor's note:
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    Rescue workers carry the body of a woman who died in the Christchuch earthquake. (Martin Hunter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  65. People receive treatment as rescuers search for victims trapped inside a commercial building after the Christchurch earthquake. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  66. A bus lies semi-crushed and covered with debris after the quake. (Martin Hunter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
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