Israel's intelligence agency said Wednesday that one of its former agents was among four people killed in northern Italy when a boat sank in a sudden storm on Lake Maggiore, near the town of Lisanza.
The former officer, who was on the boat with 22 other people, was identified by European media as Erez Shimoni, 54, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Two Italian intelligence agents and a Russian woman were also killed. Claudio Alonzi and Tiziana Barboni, agents of the Italian secret services, were on the ship to celebrate the birthday of a member of the group, according to the Efe news agency. The Russian woman, Anya Bozhkova, was the wife of the boat's owner, who rented it out to tourists.
Firefighters search for survivors after a tourist boat capsizes on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy, May 29, 2023.VIGILI DEL FUOCO/Via REUTERS
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office issued a statement on behalf of Mossad saying the agent's remains had been returned to the country for burial.
"The coffin of the retired Mossad agent who died in the tragic boating accident due to inclement weather arrived in Israel this morning," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement on behalf of the secret service.
The Foreign Ministry had previously confirmed the death of a retiree of the Israeli Security Forces, but did not provide his name or age or give details about his background.
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Netanyahu's office said that, because of the agent's work, they could not reveal further details, and offered condolences to his family. The Israeli intelligence corps operating abroad is under the direct supervision of the head of government, usually acts with the utmost secrecy and does not usually disseminate information on activities or members.
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Italian police did not provide information on the identities or professions of the 19 survivors, but local media said they included other members of the Italian and Israeli intelligence services, suggesting the departure may have been part of a working meeting.
Italian newspapers Repubblica, Corriere della Sera and Il Messaggero said, without providing sources, that some survivors were hospitalized. The captain, identified by Italian media as Carlo Carminati, survived the mishap and was questioned by prosecutors. According to these media, the vessel, which capsized before sinking, only had capacity for 15 passengers and two crew members, but at that time it was carrying 23 passengers, including the skipper's wife, Anna Bozhkova, 50, in Italy with unlimited residence visa, according to the Italian media Il Corriere della Sera.
The man, who said he struggles to sleep despite the tranquilizers, was driving the boat, a 45-foot-long houseboat that was hit by a storm and possibly a waterspout with gusts of 6 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour).
"Thirty seconds, then the apocalypse came, the ship immediately capsized and we plunged into the water," Carminati, 60, who is being investigated for murder and manslaughter, told the outlet. He surfaced and was able to be rescued.