Scene of the crash
Scene of the crashReuters

The Israel-based ZAKA emergency response organization says that it managed to identify the remains of the nine US Jews, members of two families, who died two weeks ago when their plane crashed in Costa Rica.

Bruce, Irene, Matthew, William and Zachary Steinberg of New York, as well as Mitchell, Leslie, Hannah, and Ari Weiss of Florida, were killed two weeks ago when their plane crashed and burst into flames in a wooded area in Guanacaste, northwest Costa Rica.

The remains of the respective families will be flown today to New York and Miami for burial.

Another passenger and two local crew members were also killed in the crash. Because the plane crashed in a woody area, the task of finding remains was complex and lengthy.

The Nature Air plane was one of two charter planes carrying a total of twenty passengers. The first plane, which left 20 minutes before the doomed flight, arrived in San Jose at 11:40a.m.

When ZAKA found out about the issue, ZAKA Chief Officer Mati Goldstein contacted the relevant parties, including Costa Rica's Jewish burial society, the local Chabad emissary Rabbi Levi Wilhelm, and ZAKA Mexico volunteers, who are in close contact with Costa Rican leaders.

ZAKA volunteers from New York and Miami also joined the team.

"Our investigations led us to conclude that the two planes took off from Punta Islita towards San Jose, but shortly before takeoff some of the passengers switched seats, moving from one plane to the other," Goldstein said. "After much effort, we received the list of passengers, which made it clear that there were nine Jews on the plane."

"ZAKA's international volunteers have once again proven that nothing stands in the way of determination," ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said. "Our volunteers from several countries worked together, each in his own way, to ensure that the identities of the dead would be confirmed according to Jewish law, while ensuring respect for the bodies, and the efficiency of these ZAKA volunteers bore fruit once again."