A helicopter carrying an injured skier has crashed into a mountainside in central Italy, killing all six people on board in the latest tragedy to hit a region rocked in recent days by earthquakes, heavy snowfall and an avalanche.
Images from the scene in the Abruzzo region showed the helicopter smashed to pieces in the snow, with only the tail propellers and rear section still intact.
Rescue crews brought the bodies down in sleds to waiting vehicles.
Poor visibility had slowed the arrival of rescuers, and eyewitnesses said heavy clouds blanketed the area at the time of the crash.
An official with the carabinieri forestry police in the regional capital of L'Aquila confirmed all six people aboard were killed.
Italy's civil protection agency spokesman Luigi D'Angelo said those on board included the skier, medical personnel and flight crew. The helicopter was taking the injured skier from the Campo Felice ski area to L'Aquila, he added.
The mayor of nearby Lucoli, Gianluca Marrocchi, said he had seen the helicopter and wondered why it was flying so low.
"After that it disappeared in the fog," he told RAI state TV.
Abruzzo is the same mountainous region where emergency crews have been working round the clock to recover victims of the January 18 avalanche which crushed a hotel, killing several people.