Aמ Israeli hiker died overnight Saturday during a holiday in Chile, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem has confirmed.
Ashkelon resident Luba Chernenco, 22, was on a post-army trip with three friends in the area of Puerto Natales, in the south of the country.
The circumstances of her death were not confirmed, but the Hebrew-language Ynet website reported that she fell ill and was evacuated to hospital where she collapsed and died, apparently from an complication of pneumonia.
The Foreign Ministry first received information about her death on Sunday morning and notified her family and insurance companies to arrange for her return to Israel.
“She was a girl who had a real zest for life, and I will always remember her mesmerizing smile,” Chernenco’s older sister Anna told Ynet. “She was an amazing sister, a very special girl and a loving aunt to my girl. She was radiant and always laughed and smiled. She had a magic I’ll miss very much.”
Her sister had planned to begin studying after she returned from the holiday, Anna said.
“She had a lot of plans and all her plans were cut off in one moment.”
Many young Israelis take extended vacations after completing their IDF army service and South America is a popular destination. Chernenco set off two and half weeks ago with her partner, identified only as Oron, and two friends.
The group began their journey in the south of the continent and intended to follow the warmer weather by traveling north.
Oron’s father said his son had planned to propose marriage when the couple returned from the trip.
Officials at the Israeli Embassy in Santiago were said to be in contact with the hospital where her body was being held and were helping with the process of bringing Chernenco to be buried in Israel.