Israeli grandmother drowns while tubing on Guatemalan river


RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A 60-year-old Israeli woman drowned at a popular tourist area in Guatemala in a river tubing accident with a women-only expedition.

Hadas Ayash, from the northern town of Tivon, died Tuesday in the Cahabon River near Semuc Champey, a natural bridge and major tourist attraction in the Lanquín region, the Prensa Libre news portal reported.

Ayash, a mother of three and grandmother of two, had traveled to Guatemala as part of the annual Queen of the Desert group, an Israeli travel agency that specializes in women-only expeditions to test their limits.

It is unclear what caused her to fall into the water and drown.

“It isn’t an extreme trip. It’s like tubing in the Jordan River in the summer,” Liran Eldar, one of the trip participants, told the Israeli news website Ynet.

Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the embassy in Guatemala and the Department for Israelis Abroad are helping the family to bring the body back to Israel.

In November, Guatemala’s president, Jimmy Morales, was welcomed in Israel by government officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and the Knesset president, Yuli Edelstein, all of whom thanked the country for its pivotal role in the creation of the Jewish state.

Guatemala is home to about 1,000 Jews out of a population of 15 million.

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