Onlookers From Area Kibbutzim Call Helicopter Crash Scene 'Devastating'

Henry Alkaslasi was driving through the Jezreel Valley from the direction of Tel Adashim toward his home in Kibbutz Yifat when he saw yesterday evening's army helicopter disaster happening before his eyes. "I saw the explosion and the rotor separate from the helicopter and a fireball coming down. I ran to the place. They taught me in the army that first you help and then you think about yourself. I am a medic and I hoped I could help. The second helicopter had just landed and the pilot told me to get away because there was live ammunition. I moved away and there were explosions."

At that moment, around 7 P.M., Gai Dauber from Kibbutz Ginegar was sitting outside his home. Dauber, a 12th-grader said he saw two helicopters flying one after the other. "I usually watch helicopters flying here in the valley. I was following it and then I saw the tail fall of the Cobra that was flying behind. The helicopter crashed and there was a huge explosion. I ran to the field and I was one of the first ones there."

Hovav Sela, who was on guard duty at the kibbutz gate, said: "I called the police and told them a helicopter had crashed in the field. There were a lot of explosions of ammunition and people were running into the field to help the pilots. I tried to stop people running over because I was afraid there would be more injuries." Sela said the pilots from the other helicopter were also trying to help their comrades at great danger to themselves.

Ariel Barsuk, also from Ginegar, said: "I saw the body of the helicopter in the eastern part of the field and the tail about 200 meters away. It was a difficult scene. The rescue services arrived quickly and worked very quickly. The second helicopter landed and its pilot ran toward the burning helicopter but there were big explosions and he stopped."

Elad Bachar from Magen David Adom said: "There was nothing we could do, the fire was still burning and there were small explosions. It was a devastating scene."

The commander of the region's fire-fighting services, Amos Sabag, said two fire trucks from the town of Migdal Ha'emek and an Israel Air Force fire truck had arrived on the scene, but there was nothing they could do.

Patricia Carmieli said she had been walking around the kibbutz with a video camera to film New Year's greetings of the members. "A pair of helicopters was making noise and I decided to stop filming until they passed. Suddenly I saw the rotor of one of them fall and the helicopter dove to the ground. I turned on the camera again and filmed it going up in flames. It was very hard to see. I am in pain over the two pilots."

Kibbutz members said a couple of their members were just taking a walk from the kibbutz to the field when the crash occured, but luckily they were not injured. A Bedouin shepherd was watching his cattle at the time in the field as well; he also escaped injury.