Ex-Mossad worker is among four dead when boat hosting a party for spies capsized after being hit by a whirlwind on Lake Maggiore
- Four people drowned after a pleasure boat capsized on Lake Maggiore in Italy
- Two Italian spies and a former Mossad agent were among those who died
A pleasure boat which capsized on an Alpine lake killing four people was hosting a party for Italian and Israeli spies, with a former Mossad agent among the dead, it has been revealed.
The Gooduria, which overturned while sailing on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy at around 7.20pm on Sunday, is thought to have been overloaded.
Some 21 passengers were on board alongside two crew, exceeding the 15-person limit, The Times reports.
Those on board were said to be Italian and Israeli intelligence workers, some of whom were retired.
The 52-foot boat had been chartered for a birthday lunch, with a trip to an island but it was beset with strong winds and hail as it returned to shore.
Fire brigade and scuba divers perform recovery operations of the boat, yesterday
Carabinieri and fire brigade officers take part in the search and rescue operation in Lake Maggiore
Two members of the Italian AISE national illegence agency were named among the dead – Tiziana Barnobi, 53, and Claudio Alonzi, 62 — alongside Israeli former Mossad agent Shimoni Erez, 53.
The boat captain’s wife, Russian-born Anna Bozhkova, 50, was the fourth person who drowned in the tragedy.
In a statement, AISE confirmed Barnobi and Alonzi were “taking part in a convivial meeting organised to celebrate the birthday of one of the group”.
Erez’s body was recovered from the lake, while the other three bodies were found trapped inside the vessel after sank to the bottom of the lake at a depth of 15metres.
The survivors reportedly swam to shore and were spirited away to nearby hotels to protect their anonymity.
Local resident Franco Lora said: “I heard desperate shouts for help and saw many people swimming in the freezing water.”
Shipyard worker Daniele Piccaluga told the Corriere della Sera newspaper: “I immediately went out in my motorboat but there was no sign of the boat, it had been swallowed by the lake, leaving pieces of wood and seats floating on the surface.”
Emergency services scoured the 41-mile lake for debris from the vessel
Bad weather was cited as the reason for the accident which claimed the four lives
Lake Maggiore is based in the Northern Lombardy region of Italy and is the country’s second-largest lake
Scuba divers were seen searching for bodies in the water yesterday
Claims that the captain of the vessel ignored a warning at 5.30pm for all boats on the lake to return to shorewill be examined by a magistrate.
Analysts say the bad weather was caused by a ‘downburst’ – a heavy downward wind that radiates outwards once it hits the surface during a storm.
The boat had been carrying both Italian and foreign tourists including Britons and Germans, and it sank quickly, taking one of the victims with it, according to reports.
A firefighters’ video showed a search and rescue helicopter flying over choppy waters, where chairs and other debris were floating.
According to reports from the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, two were taken to hospital in ‘moderately critical’ condition, while three were taken in ‘not very critical condition’.
A further 15 were treated at the scene and did not require further medical attention, reports have said.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: ‘We are in contact with local authorities in Italy after a boat accident and are ready to provide consular assistance to any British nationals involved.’
Lake Maggiore, which lies on the south side of the Alps, is the second largest lake in Italy and is a popular tourist destination.