Officials: wreckage of Israeli helicopter found in Romania, search for 7 soldiers continues

By Alison Mutler, AP
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wreckage of Israeli helicopter found in Romania

BUCHAREST, Romania — The wreckage of an Israeli military helicopter that crashed into a mountain in central Romania has been found, and none of the seven soldiers aboard — one Romania and six Israeli — appear to have survived the crash, officials said Tuesday.

Mircea Opris, Romania’s chief mountain rescue official, said the remains of the helicopter, a Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion, were found after it crashed Monday. He said that the chopper had burst into flames after it hit a mountain wall in a remote area of central Romania.

“It is totally dismembered,” Opris said in an interview with Realitatea TV.

Ciprian Aldea, a spokesman for the local police force, said human remains and helicopter parts were scattered in the area.

“Corpses, as such, have not been found. It is a very difficult area, very rocky,” he said. “You can’t reach the area without the appropriate search equipment.”

Romanian and Israeli government officials refused to confirm that the wreckage had been found or what had happened to the seven soldiers aboard.

The crash occurred as Romanian and Israeli troops were taking part in aviation exercises during which troops are trained to fly at low altitudes.

On Tuesday, the Israeli air force sent a transport plane to Romania to help search for the Israeli helicopter. The plane was carrying medical and search-and-rescue personnel, and officials who specialize in identifying bodies.

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