Body of Israeli Tourist Found in Peruvian River

Search for two Israelis missing since Tuesday rafting accident yields tragic results on Thursday.

Ari Yashar,

Boat crosses Peru's Apurimac River
Boat crosses Peru's Apurimac River
Reuters

The search for two Israeli tourists who went missing in a rafting accident on Peru's Apurimac River on Tuesday revealed its first tragic results on Thursday, when the body of a 22-year-old woman from Ramat Hasharon was found.

Rescue forces continue their search for the other missing Israel, a 21-year-old man from Tel Aviv, and in that effort they are joined by an Israeli rescue mission including three soldiers from the IDF's elite 669 rescue unit, who brought along advanced mechanical equipment.

"During the helicopter's actions to locate the missing, the body of one of the missing was located," said the Foreign Ministry in a statement. "It was pulled out of the river and is being guarded until the first light of day, when it will be possible to transport it. The Foreign Ministry will aid in the transfer of the body to Israel."

The Israeli consul in Lima earlier on Thursday arrived in the city of Cusco located near the river, where it established a special operations room to oversee the rescue efforts together with local authorities and rescue forces, which include Peruvian naval commandos and a rescue helicopter.

Reut Aharonson of Kfar Haoranim in the Binyamin region of Samaria was one of the six tourists rescued from the capsized raft.

Speaking to Walla! on Thursday before the tragic discovery, Aharonson said "we went out as a group of eight Israelis on Sunday with the company 'Mayuk' for three days of rafting."

Aharonson dispelled local reports that the raft was overcrowded with eight passengers, instead of the permitted six, saying "there was one ship with six tourists and a guide, and another ship with a guide, two tourists, equipment and an extra kayak the guide was in."

"During the second day on the water, shortly before we reached camp, we hit rapids," said Aharonson. "The kayak with the guide passed it, and after him came the boat with the six tourists. It got stuck on a big rock in the river and tilted to 90 degrees; four tourists fell in the water. Two were rescued and two are still missing."

The Israeli tourist added that the two who were rescued were unharmed, saying "we are whole and healthy and hope for good news. Two students are returning to studies in Israel and the rest are continuing their travels in south America."

Many tourists flock to the Apurimac, which is located in the southern mountain ranges of the country and 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.

Unfortunately Israelis drowning in the Peruvian river is not a new thing; two years ago a young Israeli woman was killed in a rafting crash near Cusco.

In 2008, Tomer Ahwan of Rishon Letzion was also 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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