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Victims who died aboard houseboat revealed to be secret agents after vessel capsized on picturesque Italian lake
30 May 2023, 09:47
Two secret agents have died after a boat they were on capsized after being hit by a "small hurricane" during a house party on Italy's Lake Maggiore.
The tragic event, which took place at around 7pm on Sunday evening, saw what onlookers described as a "whirlwind" hit the vessel on the lake which spans the border of Italy and Switzerland.
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.
According to officials in northern Italy, the two secret agents have been named as Claudio Alonzi, 62, and Tiziana Barnobi, 53.
🔴 #Varese, imbarcazione ribaltata nel lago Maggiore, nelle acque antistanti Lisanza: salve 19 persone. Operazioni di ricerca in corso di alcune persone segnalate come disperse, #vigilidelfuoco al lavoro con soccorritori acquatici, sommozzatori, elicottero [#28maggio 20:45] pic.twitter.com/1cubDhLxg9— Vigili del Fuoco (@vigilidelfuoco) May 28, 2023
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.
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 a 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.
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 husband.
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.
The whirlwind was part of a storm system that hit the northern region of Lombardy on Sunday evening, forcing delays at Malpensa airport.
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.