IDF helicopter crashes off Haifa; 3 crew members extracted

A military helicopter crashed off the coast of northern Israel on Monday evening, officials said.

One of the three crew members was recovered and taken to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment for moderate injuries. The hospital said he was being treated in his shock ward and would then be transferred to his intensive care unit for further care.

Search and rescue teams from Israel Defense Forces Unit 669 removed the other two crew members from the water, but their conditions were not immediately known.

Rescuers had tried to reach them quickly, as they risked hypothermia in the freezing waters.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but it appeared to be the result of a technical malfunction, not an attack.

The Israeli Air Force helicopter crashed just off the port city of Haifa.

Video footage taken just after the accident, which was quickly shared on social networks, showed a flaming wreck not far from the coast.

Additional videos showed flares were launched at the area to aid search and rescue teams.

The crashed helicopter was a Eurocopter AS565 Panther, known to the IAF as the “Atalef,” or bat. The aircraft is mainly used for missions at sea as it is capable of landing on Israeli Navy missile ships, especially Sa’ar-5 class models.

Fragments of the helicopter began to spill onto the shore shortly after the crash.

According to the military, the helicopter was participating in a training exercise when it crashed.

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