Israeli defence and government officials have held a press conference following the mid- air collision of two Israeli helicopters.
The crash killed all seventy three passengers and crew.
The Israeli defence minister, Yitzhak Mordechai, described the crash as a tragedy on an unprecedented scale.
It's the worst in the history of the Israeli Air Force.
Mordechai said that the men who were lost were among Israel's finest.
SOUNDBITE: ( Hebrew)
"The two helicopters crashed and it is my deep regret that all the crews and soldiers were killed in the horrible accident. We have lost today from the best warrior groups the IDF has, air men and army"
SUPERCAPTION: Yitzhak Mordechai, Israeli Defence Minister
The Air Force Commander, Eitan Ben Eliyahu passed on a message of sympathy to the families of the victims.
"I would like to express my condolences personally and on behalf of the Israeli Air Force, to the families who lost their dear ones in this terrible disaster"
SUPERCAPTION: Eitan Ben Eliyahu, Israeli Air Force Commander
IDF spokesman, Oded Ben-Ami, promised a full inquiry into the accident to be headed by David Irvri, the former Chief of the Air Force.
"With great sorrow we are announcing the death of seventy three Israeli soldiers in a collision of two CH 53 Air Force helicopters on their way to south Lebanon. That includes eight flight crew members and a combination of combat soldiers from combat units on duty in south Lebanon. Right now, an enquiry committee, headed by David Irvri, the former chief of the air force and director general of the ministry of defence. He is on his way to the northern part of Israel to start his enquiry"
SUPERCAPTION: Oded Ben-Ami, IDF Spokesman
As yet there is no suspicion of foul play, and the helicopters involved were thought to have one of the best safety records in the world.
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