Israel confirms deaths of seven soldiers in Romanian crash

Israel confirms deaths of seven soldiers in Romanian crash

The Israeli army confirmed Tuesday the deaths of six of its soldiers and one Romanian soldier in a helicopter crash in Romania, dpa reported.

The military had been informed of the deaths by Romanian officials, the army said. Israeli army rabbis and forensic experts had arrived in Romania to verify the information for themselves.

The families of the Israeli soldiers had been told, the army said.

The Yasur CH-53 helicopter crashed on Monday during joint military training exercises in Romania's Carpathian Mountains, sliding hundred of metres down a mountain side before bursting into flames.

The search effort, made difficult because of the terrain and heavy fog, was put on hold during the night and resumed at dawn Tuesday.

Visibility was said to have been poor and weather conditions difficult at the time of the crash.

Retired Israel Air Force Brigadier-General Relik Shafir told reporters that while the causes of the crash were not yet known, the "likelihood of technical failure is low."

"More probably there was pilot error or misjudgment due to flying and weather conditions," he said.

 Military officials said Israeli Air Force Commander Major General Ido Nehushtan had been in touch with his Romanian counterpart, Major General Ion-Aurel Stanciu, and agreed to launch a joint investigation of the incident.

   The IAF training programme in Romania is part of its cooperation with various militaries, according to officials.

Israel and Romania have been holding joint air force exercises since August 2004.

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