Entire helicopter crew killed in crash

Forensic experts, Rabbinate reps to identify bodies at site.

helicopter crash 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
helicopter crash 311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Romanian authorities on Tuesday declared dead the entire crew of the IAF Yasour helicopter which crashed in Romania on Monday. Six IAF servicemen and one Romanian soldier were aboard the aircraft.
The President of Romania, Traian Basescu, expressed his condolences over the incident in a letter to Shimon Peres, conveying "sentiments of deep compassion for this tragedy.
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"I would like to assure you, on this occasion, of the entire solidarity of the Romanian people with the people of Israel, in these difficult times," said Basescu.
Teams of forensic experts and members of the IDF rabbinate were preparing at a Romanian air force base to depart to the scene of the crash, to collect and identify the remains of the IAF servicemen.
Early Tuesday, the IDF released the names of the six Israelis involved in the crash: Lt. Col (Res.) Avner Goldman, 48, from Modi'in; Lt. Col. Daniel Shipenbauer, 43, from Moshav Kidron; Maj. Yahel Keshet, 33, from Hatzerim; Maj. Lior Shai, 28, from Tel-Nof; Lt. Nir Lakrif, 25, from Tel- Nof; and Staff Sergeant Oren Cohen, 24, from Rehovot.
Romanian officials had said earlier Tuesday that the wreckage of the helicopter had been found and none of the seven soldiers aboard appeared to have survived the crash.
Mircea Opris, Romania's chief mountain rescue official, 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."
Army Radio reported that two Hercules transport planes from Tel-Nof airbase landed in Romania early Tuesday afternoon. The planes were carrying medical, rabbinical and search-and-rescue teams as well as equipment to assist in the search for the bodies of the seven soldiers who were on the helicopter.
Romanian army and rescue personnel also reached the helicopter crash site on Tuesday afternoon, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit announced.
The Romanian team has begun collecting debris from the site.
Deputy IAF commander: Cause of crash still unclear
IAF Brig.-Gen Nimrod Shefer, deputy commander of the air force, told Army Radio on Tuesday that military investigators still could not determine the cause of Monday's helicopter crash.
Shefer said that the IDF had reviewed the radio communications between the helicopter that crashed and another helicopter participating in the training exercise and did not find any indication that the aircraft was experiencing technical difficulties or inclement weather before it crashed.
Yaakov Katz is the Jerusalem Post Correspondent in Romania.