Seventh Phuket crash victim identified

Hofit Iliya, wife of victim Yitzhak Biton, confirmed among fatalities; Lili Alon, 23, still missing.

September 18, 2007 07:53
2 minute read.
Seventh Phuket crash victim identified

vladimir freilichman . (photo credit: AP)


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Israel's forensic team in Thailand has identified the body of Hofit Iliya, the seventh Israeli to be identified among the victims of Sunday's fatal plane crash in Phuket, it was revealed on Wednesday morning. Iliya, 25, from Kfar Yona was the wife of Yitzhak Biton, 26, another of the crash victims. The two had been married for five months. So far, seven out of the eight missing Israelis have been identified. The only two Israeli survivors of the crash, Vladimir and Isabella Freilichman, arrived in Israel early Wednesday and were brought to the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer for treatment of their injuries, which include damage to their backs. In addition to Biton, the following Israeli crash victims had been identified by late Tuesday: Hila Gershoni, 25, of Holon; Tal Feldman, 23, of Rishon Lezion; Adi Naim, 25, and her husband Rotem Naori, 24, of Kfar Yona; Rachel Tufan, 23, of Jerusalem. Gershoni's body arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning on the same flight as the two survivors and was brought to the Forensics Institute at Abu Kabir. Lili Alon, 23, of Jerusalem, was still missing. Israeli authorities notified the next of kin of those identified, and their bodies will be flown to Israel as soon as possible, said Israel's consul in Thailand, Hanoch Amedi. Most of the family members who arrived in Phuket have come to the understanding that their relatives are likely among the dead, said Rabbi Nechemia Wilhelm, head of the Chabad house in Bangkok, who arrived in Phuket on Monday. "This is the hardest part," said Wilhelm. "They came here with some hope, but now they only want to receive the final identification and to go back home with their loved ones' bodies. They have given up on the idea that a miracle will happen." The forensic team arrived in Phuket early on Tuesday and started the identification of the bodies. The identification is based on photos, DNA samples, dental records and fingerprints they have collected from the missing passengers' families and the medical authorities before flying to Phuket. "We encountered some misunderstandings with the Thai authorities, but the cooperation between them and us is getting better all the time. They really want to help, but still want to stick to the rules and guidelines they established after the tsunami [of December 2005]," Ch.-Supt. Itzik Koronio, head of the forensic team, told The Jerusalem Post. Koronio added that early on Tuesday, the Thai authorities did not grant them free access to the bodies, but that had changed by the end of that day. Meanwhile, the Freilichmans were transported to Bangkok in in an airborne ambulance, according to Magen David Adom paramedic Asi Debilenski. "The dissonance between the reason for our being here, and the views of this beautiful and magical place, makes it harder to digest," said Haim Weingerten, one of several ZAKA members who were sent to assist in the identification process in Phuket. "We try to give the families here a shoulder to cry on and lean on... We hope that this process will end soon." Judy Siegel contributed to this report.

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