IAF helicopter 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
ROMANIA - The wreckage of an IAF helicopter that crashed into a mountain in central Romania has been found, and none of the seven soldiers aboard — one Romanian and six Israeli — appear to have survived the crash, Romanian 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.
grounded after fatal crash
The IAF's helicopter program
Yasour still believed to be reliable helicopter
"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.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, an Israeli team of pilots and IAF servicemen succeeded in reaching the crash site.
The IAF team descended from a helicopter near the remote crash site and
then trekked the rest of the way on foot. They secured the area and were
awaiting the arrival of the search-and-rescue team from Tel-Nof air
force base, as well as officers from the IDF Rabbinate
to assist in identifying the bodies. The reinforcements were set to
reach Romania later on Tuesday.
Access to the crash site had been
seriously limited by the rugged terrain, which had prevented vehicles
from reaching the site and impeded Romanian and Israeli search efforts.
Defense Ministry spokesman Constantin Spanu said on Monday night that
Romanian officials were scrambling to reach the accident site near the
town of Zarnesti, some 120 kilometers northwest of Bucharest.
said the helicopter had been flying at low altitude when radio contact
with it was lost mid-afternoon Monday.
Romanian Defense Minister
Gabriel Oprea immediately established a committee to probe the cause of
IAF Brig.-Gen Nimrod Shefer, deputy commander of
the air force, is heading the Israeli research team, the army
said. Shefer said that
all possibilities were being looked into, including a technical
malfunction or a human error that may have caused the crash.