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Tragedy Mars Yom Ha’atzmaut 8 Die, 35 Rescued in Worst Civilian Boat Accident in Israel’s History

At least eight persons, including three children, drowned today and four are missing after an excursion boat carrying about 50 passengers capsized in Haifa Bay. Four of the known dead appear to be members of the same family. About 35 people were rescued by fishing boats and Israeli Navy craft or managed to swim ashore. Seventeen of the rescued were hospitalized. A search for the missing was called off at dusk but is expected to be resumed by the Navy tomorrow morning.

The tragedy, which marred Independence Day celebrations, was the worst civilian boat accident in Israel’s history. Seven of the dead have been identified. They are: Haya Kaufmann, 26, of Haifa; Ammar Assi, 45, Mufid Assi, 30, Tami Assi, 10 and Zuheida Assi, 8, all of the Arab village of Kafar Kara near Afule; Fatme Abdallah, 20, of the Arab village of JalJulya near Petach Tikva; and Luvana Yassid, 3, of Tamra village near Acre. The body of the eighth victim was not immediately identified.

The boat, owned by a Haifa fisherman, made several excursions during the day carrying holiday-makers along the picturesque shoreline of Acre across the bay from Haifa. It was about to return to Haifa when it capsized for reasons still unknown. Many of the passengers were trapped beneath the boat, but those who could swim were able to save themselves.

No other accidents were reported during Independence Day, which hundreds of thousands of Israelis spent picnicking on the beaches and woodlands. (See related Independence Day stories P. 4)

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