Childhood friends killed in Bolivia

'We want a joint funeral,' one father says.

bolivia death road 224.8 (photo credit: Courtesy)
bolivia death road 224.8
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The post-army trip of four close friends from Haifa came to a tragic end on Thursday when they and a young man from Tel Aviv who had joined them on the road all died in a fiery jeep collision in the Salt Desert of Bolivia. The badly burned bodies of the five 21-year old victims - Ortal Ducas, Danielle Atzmon, Sivan Budnizky and Adi Roseman from Haifa as well as Liran Mizrahi from Tel Aviv - will be flown to Israel on Sunday and are due to arrive on Monday, after making two stops along the way. A fifth girl, Mor Elbaz, was traveling with the others but her life was saved because she had switched places with Mizrahi, moving to another vehicle shortly before the accident. The four female victims had been close friends since seventh grade, and according to friends, were inseparable. Alon and Ilana Ducas, Ortal's parents, hope to have a joint funeral, the father told Army Radio. A preliminary inquiry revealed that the five were traveling in the Salt (Solar) Desert near the city of Uyuni in southern Bolivia when their jeep collided head-on with another jeep filled with six Japanese tourists. Police Sgt. Francisco Meneses told The Associated Press that the two vehicles collided and burst into flames. According to AP, the second vehicle's driver, who sustained serious injures, survived the crash. Bolivia, and the Uyuni desert in particular, are popular tourist destinations for Israelis. Desert trips last three to four days and often include stays in a hotel made entirely out of salt. Israel has no embassy in Bolivia and Foreign Ministry officials were coordinating the release and identification of the tourists' bodies with the South American country. The victims' families have been contacted. The Israeli consul in Bolivia is the highest state official stationed there. The ambassador in Peru, Walid Manzur - who is also responsible for Israelis in Bolivia - arrived Thursday night in the capital city of La Paz to handle the situation, communicate with local authorities and arrange for the transfer of the bodies to Israel. Foreign Ministry spokesman Aryeh Mekel said the flight was made possible after Manzur organized the details required by Bolivian authorities. AP contributed to this report