British couple killed in air crash
A British pilot and his stuntwoman wife have died after their small plane crashed into a mountain near the French Riviera.
James and Jacqueline Balmer - who went by the stage name Jacquie de Creed and became famous for her spectacular car stunts - are understood to have set off from Italy and were making their way towards Troyes, some 100 miles south east of Paris, when they were killed.
The wreckage of their light aircraft was discovered on Mont Agel, between the port of Menton and the principality of Monaco.
According to local reports, the couple from Cirencester, in Gloucestershire, took off in a twin engine Piper PA-39 shortly after 10am but lost all radar contact at 11.28am on Friday.
The stricken six-seater plane was found near the villages of Peille and Gorbo at around 3.40pm after authorities launched an extensive four-hour sea and air rescue operation. This involved an aeroplane, several helicopters, a lifeboat and a navy minesweeper.
A high mountain patrol was dispatched and the bodies of Mr Balmer, 68, and his wife, 54, were transported to the nearby city of Nice.
Local reports suggested that fog, which blanketed the region on Friday morning, may have forced the aircraft to travel at a low level before it crash-landed on private property at an altitude 814 metres. It had earlier been spotted flying at "very low altitude", according to one news outlet.
A spokesman for the Nice-Montagne police said an investigation had been launched into the cause of the crash.
"The couple were found during the afternoon following the plane crash on Mont Agel," he said.
"At present we do not know what caused the accident. Investigations are ongoing."