Israelis in Peru Rafting Accident Feared Drowned

Still no lead on two Israelis who disappeared in crash two days ago; tourist companion recounts their last days together.

Ari Yashar,

Rafting (illustration)
Rafting (illustration)
Thinkstock

More than two days have passed since all contact was lost with two Israeli tourists who went missing in a rafting accident in Peru; on Wednesday, fears deepened that the two 20-year-olds from Israel's central coastal region may have drowned.

The six other tourists in the accident on Peru's Apurimac River were rescued on Tuesday, and since then searches for the remaining two have continued, pausing only for nightfall. Reportedly Israeli rescue teams have been dispatched to aid the efforts.

One of the young tourists who traveled with the Israelis in the boat was quoted by Walla! as saying he stayed at the same Peruvian hostel with the Israelis before leaving for their rafting excursion together.

"All of their things and belongings are still stored here at the hostel," he said. "Since (the ancient Incan site) Machu Picchu we were travelling together. We went together to go rafting, but with different operators, and so we were divided into two groups. They weren't with us."

The young tourist reported that he only heard about the accident after returning to the hostel on Tuesday. He added "we tried to clarify with the foreign ministry what happened, but we didn't manage to get hold of anyone. We're really worried and don't know what's happened to our friends, who's been rescued and who hasn't."

The Israeli consul in Lima, together with the Israeli embassy team and the department for Israelis abroad, are working with local authorities and the Harel insurance company that insured the missing youths to try and locate them.

A team from the insurance company is being sent to Peru on Wednesday, where they will integrate into the efforts of the Peruvian naval commandos and rescue helicopters to find the missing Israelis.

The six tourists who were rescued on Tuesday were located by police and local rescue squads thanks to a location signal received from a satellite device held by one of the tourists.

Apurimac is a popular tourist site, located in the southern mountain ranges of the country where it feeds the Amazon River; it also includes many falls and rapids in narrows gorges 3,000 meters (nearly 2 miles) deep - twice the depth of the Grand Canyon.

This not the first case of Israelis going missing in the Peruvian river; two years ago a young Israeli woman was killed in a rafting crash near Cusco, a city located close to the river.

Likewise, in 2008, Tomer Ahwan of Rishon Letzion was found dead in the region, after being thrown off course in a Peruvian river while travelling with his friends. Ahwan's boat tipped over; his body was only found two months after the accident.




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