Two Israel Defense Forces pilots died Monday evening when their military helicopter crashed off the coast of northern Israel.
A third crew member was recovered and taken to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment for moderate injuries. The hospital said he was in stable condition, was being treated in his shock ward and would then be transferred to his intensive care unit for further treatment.
IDF search and rescue teams removed the other two crew members from the water and carried out resuscitation efforts, but were unable to resuscitate them.
Their families have been notified, the IDF said in a statement.
The military said the survivor was a patrol officer. The model of the helicopter that crashed usually consisted of a pilot, a co-pilot and a naval officer.
Search and rescue teams included IDF Unit 669, Navy Flotilla 13 elite commando unit, and Navy Yaltam Dive Unit.
Israel Air Force Chief Amikam Norkin immobilized all crashed line helicopters, halted all Air Force training flights, and appointed a team to investigate the accident.
The precise cause of the accident was not immediately known, but it appeared to be the result of a technical malfunction and not of an attack.
The 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.