Body of drowned Israeli tourist found on Panama beach
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Body of drowned Israeli tourist found on Panama beach

Family says 31-year-old Haim Ben Baruch was supposed to return home last month, but decided to extend his stay in South America

An undated picture of Israeli tourist Haim Ben Baruch, who drowned off the coast of Panama on May 2, 2019. (Haim Ben Baruch, Facebook)
An undated picture of Israeli tourist Haim Ben Baruch, who drowned off the coast of Panama on May 2, 2019. (Haim Ben Baruch, Facebook)

The body of an Israeli tourist was found on a Panamanian beach Friday, ending a more than 24-hour search for the man, who disappeared after boarding a ship bound for neighboring Colombia.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement that the body of an Israeli national had been found washed ashore on a beach in Panama’s San Blas island.

Reports in Hebrew-language media identified the man as 31-year-old Haim Ben Baruch. According to the reports, the boat driver said Baruch jumped into the water halfway through the journey to Colombia to take a swim but never returned.

“We still don’t know exactly what happened,” his mother, Ilana Omri, told the Ynet news site. “The feeling in our home right now is just terrible, we haven’t even digested the news.

“He was a gifted child, a hard worker and a wonderful soul who took care of me and everyone else,” she said.

Kuna Indigenous children play close to the sea in Nargana Island, San Blas, Panama on July 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

Omri said her son was scheduled to return to Israel in April, but extended his trip in South America by a month.

The Foreign Ministry said it was assisting in returning Ben Baruch’s body to Israel for burial.

Last month, the body of 36-year-old Israeli tourist Yaniv Avraham was found dead in a Berlin hotel room shortly after his disappearance. The circumstances surrounding Avraham’s death were not clear, and German police have opened an investigation into the incident.

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