Two Israeli women—Galila Bitton, 61, from Nesher, and Dina Porat, 71, from Rishpon—were killed when a boat overturned while cruising in the Serrano River in the Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday.
In addition, four Israelis were seriously injured, and 10 were lightly injured in the accident, all of them in their 60s and 70s. The tourists were evacuated to local hospitals, with those who sustained fractures flown in a helicopter to receive medical treatment. The Foreign Ministry said none of the injured are in a life-threatening condition. A message was given to their families.
According to the Foreign Ministry's situation room, the tourists were part of the Massaot tour company tourist group.
Guy Raveh, Massaot CEO, said: "Since the minute we were informed about the accident, we've been in constant contact with the Israeli Embassy in Chile. We are making sure each of the Israelis is receiving appropriate and good medical care.
"It's too soon to tell what caused the accident. The group departed on February 18 for a 23 day trip in Chile, Argentina mad Brazil. Their guide is one of the best, and has been doing this route for many years.
The boat, "Terry Brian," reportedly crashed into a rock and overturned after its captain lost control of the vessel. The tourists were all wearing life jackets.
The authorities in Chile launched an investigation into the incident.
Israeli Ambassador to Chile, Eldad Hayet, said that heavy rainfalls have recently hit southern Chile, which probably prompted stronger currents in the area.
Israel’s consul in the area, Leon Suissa, arrived at the hospitals to assist the wounded. The Foreign Ministry's Department for Israelis Abroad is in constant contact with the injured as well as the relevant authorities in Chile.
Noam Sela, a tour guide in Chile said: "The location (of the accident) is considered one of the most beautiful nature reserves in South America. Those who tour the area can enjoy snowy hilltops, spectacular geological shapes, lakes and rivers."
Furthermore, Sela said that the course of the boat is considered very safe."This is one of the safest routes (in Chile). The Serrano River is broad and quiet, with weak currents. After 20 minutes of sailing, the tourists are asked to disembarked and walk for several minutes until they reach a second boat and continue their cruise."