Israeli backpacker’s body identified in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (JTA) — The body of a backpacker found last month near the Brazilian-Colombian border was identified as a missing Israeli.

Omri Lahad, 23, is believed to have died after being bitten by a venomous snake. The body was identified Monday.

Israeli representatives in Peru are organizing for Lahad’s remains to be returned to Israel.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry had arranged a search-and-rescue mission in hopes of finding Lahad, who had not contacted his family for a month prior to the discovery of his body. The searches were led by Omri’s brother, Tom, and an Israeli rescue-unit specialist.

Lahad, who lived in Rosh Pina and was known as Kipi, separated from his group of friends in the town of Leticia, on the border between Colombia and Peru, according to reports. He had last contacted his family in Israel on Oct. 27, when he planned to sail toward Iquitos. The next day he withdrew money from a local ATM before heading out on a ferry cruise in the Peruvian rainforest.

Lahad officially was declared missing on Nov. 26.

Although his body was found nearly a month ago near the Brazilian border, it was only identified after a photograph was circulated around Peru. Search investigations had collaborated with embassies in Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Argentina. The Jewish community in Manaus, Brazil’s largest city in the Amazon region, also helped.

Lahad had been traveling since finishing his army service in June.

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