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Helicopter crash in Argentina plunges French sport into mourning

Published on 10/03/2015 16:59 - By

Swimmer Camille Muffat, sailor Florence Arthaud, boxer Alexis Vastine, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Argentina, last Monday. They were participating in a reality show, called "Dropped", produced by the company ALP, for a French television channel, scheduled for broadcast this summer.

It was 5:10 pm, local time, on Monday, at Villa Castelli, in the province of La Rioja, Argentina, when two helicopters transporting film crews, athletes and their two pilots took off just before the fateful in-flight collision. The initial investigation elements suggest the possibility of pilot error, although it is still too early to say.

French sport has lost several high profile figures : sailor Florence Arthaud (57 years old), who won the 1990 Route du Rhum, Camille Muffat (25 years old), 2012 London Olympics swimming gold medalist, and boxer Alexis Vastine (28 years old) who came from a family of boxers.

Sorrowful reactions are many following the tragedy, including from other participants of the show, who were not on board the helicopters.

In a statement, French president Francois Hollande, expressed "astonishment and emotion", and added, "The sudden death of our compatriots is a great sadness.".

The French television channel, have also expressed their "great sadness". In 2013, the group experienced a tragedy in the making of another reality show, Koh Lanta, caused by the death of a participant and the suicide of the team doctor. This particular drama also recalls a helicopter accident that resulted in the death, in Mali, of popular French singer, Daniel Balavoine, during the 1986 Paris-Dakar race.

Due to the fact that the two Ecureuil AS350 helicopters involved in the crash were of French construction, the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, will be brought in to participate in the investigation.

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