Israeli Delegations Land in Namibia to Identify Plane Crash Victims

Diamond industry officials have identified the 5 passengers killed in Saturday's crash as Israeli diamond dealers.

Delegations from the Israel Police and the ZAKA rescue and identification organization landed on Monday in Namibia in order to begin the process of identifying the five Israelis who perished in a plane crash near the southern African nation's capital on Saturday.

The delegation members will meet with the local police commander in order to coordinate their work.

Diamond industry officials have identified five passengers killed when their light aircraft crashed in a residential suburb of Namibia's capital Windhoek on Saturday as Israeli diamond dealers.

Family members of the five casualties - Shlomo Zilberberg, Shmuel Zigdon, Amit Cohen, Ilan Hadadi and Avichai Abarov - arrived Sunday at Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine, in Jaffa, to provide DNA samples and dental records of their relations, to help in identifying the bodies.

The five Israelis died together with four other local workers who were also aboard the plane.

The crash occurred on Friday afternoon, shortly after the chartered Cessna-210 took off, after a refueling stop in Windhoek. The deceased were apparently headed to a lodge in the Etosha National Wildlife Park in northern Namibia. About two minutes after takeoff, the plane crashed, as it was attempting an emergency landing in a residential suburb of Windhoek.

The men were in Namibia to oversee the construction of three new diamond-cutting facilities in South Africa. The project was initiated by Zilberberg, who was a leading figure in the Israeli diamond trade. The trip to Etosha was meant to provide his employees with an opportunity for rest and relaxation.

Zilberberg, 54, is survived by his wife, and two sons, aged 13 and 18. He lived with his family in Netanya, and meant to move to Udim, a moshav nearby, where he owns a horse ranch.

Amit Cohen, 26, from Herzliya, is survived by his wife, Sivan, whom he married several months ago. She is five months pregnant. Cohen's uncle, Mordechai Halfon, said that his nephew, who worked for Halfon, had planned to buy the apartment he was renting with his wife.

Shmuel Zigdon, 53, is survived by his wife, and four children, aged 16, 18, 24 and 30. He also lived in the Sharon region, in Moshav Porat, where he was born and raised. He began working in the diamond industry at the age of 14, slowly working his way up through the ranks before opening his own cutting plant in Ramat Gan.

The fourth Israeli casualty, Ilan Hadadi, 44, from Netanya, was single. He met Zilberberg as an electrician, and the latter hired him to work on the the Udim horse ranch. The fifth casualty, Avichai Abarov, a gemologist, was supposed to run one of Zilberberg's plants.