Search teams set out from Khalga, India, at 7:30 Wednesday morning to continue the search for Amichai Shtainmetz, the 24-year-old Israeli backpacker reported missing last week.

Joining the rescue efforts mounted by an insurance company’s search squad and some 50 volunteers recruited by a pair of Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical students were five friends of Shtainmetz, who served in the same unit with him in the Israel Defense Force. After arriving in the area on Tuesday, they led the volunteer teams through the mountainous region where their friend is believed to have disappeared.

According to Rabbi Levi Pekar, who is in the region with Rabbi Yehuda Kirsch as part of the summer rabbinical visitation program run by Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, trained dogs assisted the teams on Wednesday. In addition, an anonymous donor has pledged an award of 100,000 rupees for anyone who locates the missing man.

While efforts on Tuesday concentrated on combing the general area, Wednesday’s search involved more intense explorations of caves, ravines and waterways, as well as a deeper penetration of the dense jungle. The professional search and rescue team that is leading the mission descended cliffs and drew nets across waterways.

A break in the heavy downpours has also increased optimism among rescuers.

Pekar said that the Chabad House in Manali, several hours away, is continuing to send jeeps of additional volunteers, and that other Chabad centers and Jewish institutions in the region are recruiting more volunteers from among the local and transient populations.

Kirsch, who spent 12 hours searching on Tuesday, said that the search would likely continue through Tisha B’Av, a fast day beginning Wednesday night that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. An announcement made at the base camp directed anyone who would be actively searching to refrain from fasting during the day, both for their own safety and the urgency of the mission.

“The incredible unity and genuine concern for Amichai’s safety among the many volunteers and Israeli rescuers has made a deep impression on the locals,” said Kirsch. “They are just amazed that so many care so much.”