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5 Israeli Soldiers Killed, 5 Injured in Helicopter Crash

Five Israeli soldiers were killed and five were injured when a helicopter crashed during a training exercise in the Beit Shean valley yesterday, the army announced today.

A military spokesman said the Bell 212 helicopter with a crew of three and seven soldiers aboard was maneuvering through a narrow gorge between sheer cliffs in an exercise involving helicopter support for ground troops. When one of its two engines failed, the pilot attempted to lift the craft above the cliff line but it lacked power and slammed into the sides of the gorge.

Rescue parties from nearby Kibbutz Manola had difficulty reaching the wreckage because of the rugged terrain. Other helicopters landed on adjacent hilltops to remove the injured. The Air Force has established a commission to investigate the mishap.