Ten Israelis who survived a boat overturning on an Italian lake at the weekend were repatriated on a military plane, Italian media said Tuesday amid reports that most of those on board were former or current intelligence personnel from at least two countries.
A tourist boat overturned on Italy’s Lake Maggiore on Sunday in strong winds, killing four people including a 50-year-old Israeli man.
Eighteen of the 20 survivors of the disaster were former or current agents and were hastily evacuated from hospitals and hotels “so as not to leave a trace,” according to the Italian reports, cited by the Walla news site on Tuesday.
Their nationalities were not clarified.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that the deceased Israeli man, who has not been publicly named, was also a retired member of the security forces.
According to Channel 12 news, the man had only recently stopped working.
Two of the other victims were Italians — a 62-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman — who both worked in the intelligence services, Italy’s security services said.
“The two employees, belonging to the intelligence department, were taking part in a convivial meeting organized to celebrate the birthday of one of the group,” it said in a statement.
Media reports said the fourth victim was a 50-year-old Russian woman, the partner of the boat’s captain.
The deceased Israeli man became friends with the Italian officers after they became acquainted through their work, according to Hebrew-language media reports.
The boat, reportedly hired for a birthday party, overturned on Italy’s Lake Maggiore on Sunday in strong wind.
The president of the Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, said Sunday that a “whirlwind” had caused the 16-meter (52-foot) long boat to overturn.
Italian investigators have reportedly said they believe the ship capsized in an accident caused by the sudden change in weather, rather than foul play.
The survivors were rescued by passing boats or swam to shore, Italian media said.
AFP contributed to this report.