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Helicopter crash kills French sports stars in La Rioja, Argentina - Camille Muffat, Alexis Vastine and Florence Arthaud among 10 dead

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People are seen near the burning wreckages of two helicopters which collided mid-air near Villa Castelli, in the Argentine province of La Rioja, on March 9, 2015. Eight French nationals, including sports stars, filming a reality TV show were killed Monday along with two Argentine pilots when their helicopters collided in mid-air in northwestern Argentina, officials said.

People are seen near the burning wreckages of two helicopters which collided mid-air near Villa Castelli, in the Argentine province of La Rioja, on March 9, 2015. Eight French nationals, including sports stars, filming a reality TV show were killed Monday along with two Argentine pilots when their helicopters collided in mid-air in northwestern Argentina, officials said.

AFP/Getty Images

France's Alexis Vastine reacts after defeating Mongolia's Tuvshinbat Byamba in a men's welterweight 69-kg preliminary boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, in London.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky/File)

France's Alexis Vastine reacts after defeating Mongolia's Tuvshinbat Byamba in a men's welterweight 69-kg preliminary boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, in London. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky/File)

AP

The two helicopters which collided mid-air near Villa Castelli, take off moments before the accident in the Argentine province of La Rioja, on March 9, 2015. Eight French nationals, including sports stars, filming a reality TV show were killed Monday along with two Argentine pilots when their helicopters collided in mid-air in northwestern Argentina, officials said.

The two helicopters which collided mid-air near Villa Castelli, take off moments before the accident in the Argentine province of La Rioja, on March 9, 2015. Eight French nationals, including sports stars, filming a reality TV show were killed Monday along with two Argentine pilots when their helicopters collided in mid-air in northwestern Argentina, officials said.

AFP/Getty Images

People gather near the smoking remains of a helicopter that crashed with another near Villa Castelli in the La Rioja province of Argentina, Monday, March 9, 2015. Two helicopters carrying passengers filming the popular European reality show "Dropped" crashed Monday in the remote area of northwest Argentina, killing everyone on board, authorities said. (AP Photo/Gabriel Gonzalez)

People gather near the smoking remains of a helicopter that crashed with another near Villa Castelli in the La Rioja province of Argentina, Monday, March 9, 2015. Two helicopters carrying passengers filming the popular European reality show "Dropped" crashed Monday in the remote area of northwest Argentina, killing everyone on board, authorities said. (AP Photo/Gabriel Gonzalez)

AP

Picture released by NA showing the wreckage of a helicopter burning in flames after colliding mid-air with another chopper near Villa Castelli, in the Argentine province of La Rioja, on March 9, 2015. All ten people aboard the helicopters died, including a French reality show cast, according to the provisional government.

Picture released by NA showing the wreckage of a helicopter burning in flames after colliding mid-air with another chopper near Villa Castelli, in the Argentine province of La Rioja, on March 9, 2015. All ten people aboard the helicopters died, including a French reality show cast, according to the provisional government.

AFP/Getty Images

Picture of the burning wreckages of two helicopters which collided mid-air near Villa Castelli, in the Argentine province of La Rioja, on March 9, 2015. Eight French nationals, including sports stars, filming a reality TV show were killed Monday along with two Argentine pilots when their helicopters collided in mid-air in northwestern Argentina, officials said.

Picture of the burning wreckages of two helicopters which collided mid-air near Villa Castelli, in the Argentine province of La Rioja, on March 9, 2015. Eight French nationals, including sports stars, filming a reality TV show were killed Monday along with two Argentine pilots when their helicopters collided in mid-air in northwestern Argentina, officials said.

AFP/Getty Images

People are seen near the burning wreckages of two helicopters which collided mid-air near Villa Castelli, in the Argentine province of La Rioja, on March 9, 2015. Eight French nationals, including sports stars, filming a reality TV show were killed Monday along with two Argentine pilots when their helicopters collided in mid-air in northwestern Argentina, officials said.

Three French sports stars are among 10 people killed when two helicopters carrying them crashed in a remote part of Argentina, authorities say.

French Olympic gold medal swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud died when the helicopters apparently collided mid-air Monday near Villa Castelli in La Rioja province, about 730 miles (1,170 kilometres) northwest of Buenos Aires.

Eight French nationals and two Argentine pilots were killed in total.

An Argentine statement identified the remaining victims as Laurent Sbasnik, Lucie Mei-Dalby, Volodia Guinard, Brice Guilbert and Edouard Gilles, as well as Argentine pilots Juan Carlos Castillo and Roberto Abate.

The cause of the crash remains unclear and officials say weather conditions at the time were good. La Rioja Secretary of Security, Cesar Angulo, told TN television: “An explosion occurred and it's believed that they [the helicopters] collided.”

The stars were filming a popular European celebrity reality show called Dropped when the apparent collision occurred. The survival programme follows contestants in rugged terrains as they attempt to find their own food and build their own shelter.

The show's producers, Adventure Line Productions (ADL), released a statement confirming the 10 deaths.

"All the ADL teams are devastated and share the deep pain of the families and loved ones they are in contact with," it said. "We are in contact with the production teams on site (and) with the French and Argentine authorities. We will give more information as soon as possible."

French President Francois Hollande paid tribute to the Olympian’s death in a statement. "The brutal demise of our compatriots is an immense sadness,” he said on Tuesday.

“Some had finished their careers and one was dreaming of gold in Rio,” French Secretary of State for Sport Thierry Braillard said on BFM TV channel. “I'm profoundly saddened. French sport has lost three stars this morning.”

Former France and Arsenal striker Sylvain Wiltord, ice skating champion Philippe Candeloro, former Olympic swimming champion Alain Bernard and veteran cyclist Jeannie Longo are among the other French athletes who took part in the show, but none were involved in the accident.

“I am sad for my friends, I'm trembling, I'm horrified, I don't have words. I can't say anything,” Wiltord tweeted.

Source: Independent

Independent News Service