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All dead in Israeli helicopter crash in Romania: official

There were no survivors among the six Israeli and one Romanian soldiers on board an Israeli helicopter that crashed Monday in central Romania, the defence ministry said Tuesday.

world Updated: Jul 27, 2010 23:46 IST

There were no survivors among the six Israeli and one Romanian soldiers on board an Israeli helicopter that crashed Monday in central Romania, the defence ministry said Tuesday.

"Search and rescue teams have found no survivors of Monday's aircrash," the ministry said in a press release.

"Defence Minister Gabriel Oprea expresses his deep regret over the death of the seven soldiers."

An Israeli Sikorski CH 53 type helicopter, which was taking part in a joint Romanian Israeli drill, crashed late on Monday in a mountainous area close to Bran, 140 kilometres (90 miles) north of Bucharest.

The helicopter slammed into the side of a mountain and fell into a valley after becoming separated from its wingman in heavy fog during what an Israeli general described as "routine training" in search and rescue.

Twenty-four hours after the crash, dozens of Romanian rescuers and policemen were searching the site.

"This is an extremely difficult mission because the helicopter crashed in a steep area and only people having solid mountaineering training can reach it," Ciprian Candea of the mountain rescue dispatch based in Brasov told AFP.

Israeli investigators were also heading to the site, the military said. Witnesses quoted by Antena 3 television channel on Monday said they had seen three helicopters flying above the mountain region around Brasov.

"Smoke was coming out of one of the helicopters which started losing altitude," one of the witnesses was quoted as saying.

On July 18, the Romanian defence ministry announced an Israeli Sikorski helicopter participating in the joint exercise Blue Sky 2010 had made a crash landing after "sensing a failure aboard."

"Once the failure was fixed, the helicopter returned safely to the Boboc airbase," the ministry said.