mossad boat sink
© PURICELLI/EPA-EFE/ShutterstockItalian authorities work around the tourist boat that capsized and sank in Lake Maggiore two days earlier. Serving and ex-members of intelligence services were on board tourist boat that overturned in 'weather-related accident'.
A recently retired Mossad agent has died along with two Italian spies in a mysterious incident on Lake Maggiore in which a boat carrying dozens of intelligence officers capsized.

A total of four people died after the tourist boat overturned and sank on Sunday evening on Italy's Lake Maggiore, in what Italian officials believe was a weather-related accident, with no foul play suspected.

Another factor may have been overcrowding as the vessel, named the Gooduria, was said to be carrying eight more people than its 15-person limit at the time of the incident.

Israeli media reports said that 18 of the 20 survivors were serving or former members of the intelligence services.

mossad boat sink
© Mattia Ozbot/Getty ImagesRecovery operations of the boat by fire brigade and scuba divers after it capsized and sank during a sudden storm
Some in the group of serving and former spies supposedly became friends after encountering each other in their line of work and had rented the boat to celebrate a birthday. The boat hire allegedly took place at the tail end of an official visit to Italy by Israeli spies.

Israel and Italy have been seeking to strengthen their ties on artificial intelligence and cyber-security, two areas which may have required input from intelligence services on both sides.

Comment: Which would make sense since Italy's new PM seems to be following the establishment agenda: Italy announces intention to leave China's Belt and Road pact following US pressure

The drowned former Israeli agent, described by those who knew him as a "genius" in the intelligence field, had only recently retired according to the Israeli broadcaster Channel 12. He was named by local media reports as Shimoni Erez, though a statement by Israel's foreign ministry identified him only as a retired member of the security services.

Comment: Apparently this genius was deemed no longer useful, and possibly a liability.

Italian security services said the other victims, 62-year-old Claudio Alonzi, and 53-year-old Tiziana Barnobi, were their intelligence agents. A fourth victim, 50-year-old Russian citizen Anna Bozhkova, is understood to be the partner of the tourist boat's captain.

"The two employees, belonging to the intelligence department, were taking part in a convivial meeting organised to celebrate the birthday of one of the group," said the Italian security services in a statement.

Sudden change in weather

Officials in the Lombardy region claimed that a "whirlwind" made the 52-foot boat overturn and sink, while Italian investigators said a sudden change in weather appeared to be the cause of the accident.

This seemed to be corroborated by an eyewitness who told Italy's La Stampa newspaper: "Suddenly, the sky turned black, heavy rain began to pour, and from the shore, almost nothing could be seen," Local weather forecasts had also warned of thunderstorms occurring in recent days.

Comment: Surely such a dramatic change in weather, in such a populated and popular area, would have more than one eyewitness?

The survivors either swam to shore or were rescued by other boats. Local reports said that ten serving Israeli agents were evacuated from hospitals and put on a military plane back to Tel Aviv. They reportedly left in such a hurry that a Ford rental car was left by the lakeside.

There were few details reported in the Israeli press about the Israeli victim, who was described as a Mossad agent by the news website Arutz Sheva, also known as Israel National News.

"Every time we asked, he'd give you a wide smile and say nothing. The most discreet person I've known," one unnamed friend of the agent told Ynet, one of Israel's most widely read news websites.

Lake Maggiore is situated on the southern side of the Alps, straddling both Italy and Switzerland. It is a popular beauty spot for tourists, who can embark on private cruises, small boat tours or be ferried to nearby islands.