52-foot boat sank with 25 people aboard who were celebrating a birthday party on Lake Maggiore on the border of Italy and Switzerland and there were two secret agents on board according to reports by northern Italy officials.
The tragic event took place at around 7pm on Sunday evening, 28 May and onlookers described it as a “whirlwind” hitting the vessel on the lake.
Four bodies have since been recovered by authorities following the capsizing, with multiple international security agents believed to be aboard, including a number of British nationals.
Northern Italy officials named the two secret agents as Claudio Alonzi, 62, and Tiziana Barnobi, 53.
The other two victims are believed to be Shimoni Erez, 50, a former member of the Israeli security forces, and Anya Bozhkova, 50, a Russian national.
It’s also believed the boat was captained by Bozhkova’s partner and they were living on the boat which they periodically rented out to tour groups, according to Italian media.
The incident happened between the towns of Sesto Calende and Arona according to Italian media.
The sinking is said to have happened after a “violent storm” appeared over the lake during the birthday party, with the 52-foot boat sinking, dragging the 25 people aboard into the choppy waters.
The whirlwind was part of a storm system that hit the northern region of Lombardy on Sunday evening, forcing delays at Malpensa airport.
Multiple party-goers were rescued by nearby boats and some people were seen swimming to shore, with five individuals taken to hospital.
Rescue divers and helicopters were scrambled according to reports, as the search began at the southern end of the lake, and several ambulances and an air ambulance attended the scene.
Attilio Fontana, who is the president of the Lombardy region, described the incident as “very serious”.
Firefighter video showed pieces of wood floating in the lake as a helicopter flew overhead.
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 is the second largest lake in Italy and is a popular tourist destination. It lies on the south side of the Alps and offers a cinematic scenery.
(Image: Diriye Amey, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)