Seventy Israeli soldiers have been killed after the two military transport helicopters collided on their way to south Lebanon.
It's being labeled the biggest air disaster in Israel's military history.
Previously the worst accident was a 1977 helicopter crash which killed 54 people.
A white explosion lit the night sky as the Sikorsky helicopters crashed to the ground.
The wreckage plummeted towards a communal settlement in eastern Galilee, eight kilometers south of the Lebanon border.
One of the helicopters smashed into an empty guesthouse, which burst into flames. The other hit a building site.
Officials said about 70 soldiers and officers were killed in the accident.
But so far no residents from the settlement have been reported injured.
The helicopters - loaded with explosives - were taking troops to southern Lebanon as part of a troop rotation, the army said.
Dozens of rescue workers raced to the scene after the crash which took place at 7 P-M local time (1700 GMT)
Convoys carried the dead to a nearby army base for identification.
\"We have here about seventy killed, we are now evacuating the dead and looking for survivors. I want to send my condolences to all the families worried about their sons that serve in the north\"
SUPERCAPTION: Amiran Levin, head of IDF northern command
The helicopters involved - CH 53s- were thought to have one of the best safety records in the world.
\"It was a formation flight. In formation flight pilots they calculate the distance between the helicopters. There are no instruments. The helicopter is one of the best helicopters that I know in the world, and I know all of them. Very safe. Very strong. But with a flying machine the margin of error is very narrow - from time to time accidents happen. Like this one\"
SUPERCAPTION: Nehemia Dagan, Helicopter expert
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, cancelled a trip to Jordan where he was to have met with King Hussein, Wednesday.
(We have lost)\"Tens of our best boys, courageous and good soldiers of the I-D-F. The Defense Minister and the Chief of Staff are looking into the cause of the disaster and its scope. But it is obvious to us that the lives of many families have changed beyond recognition and they will never go back to what they were before the announcement. All of Israel is united today to strengthen these families. These are all our families, these are all our sons.\"
SUPER CAPTION: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister
Soldiers were working through the night to search for survivors and identify the dead as quickly as possible.
The explosion caused extensive damage throughout the settlement which was later sealed off by the army.
Rescue workers were left to clear up the wreckage, and count the human cost of the tragedy.