10 Mar 2015

Argentina helicopter crash: 10 killed

Ten people, including three French sports stars, are killed in a helicopter crash in Argentina during filming for a reality television show.

Two helicopters collided over Argentina’s La Rioja province during filming for the television show Dropped. Eight French nationals and two Argentinians were killed.

Among the deceased were London 2012 Olympic swimming champion Camille Muffat, boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud, the Argentinian government said.

Alexis Vastine, Camille Muffat and Florence Arthaud

Above (left to right): Alexis Vastine, Camille Muffat and Florence Arthaud

Muffat won gold at the 2012 Games in 400m freestyle while 28-year-old Vastine claimed the light welterweight bronze at the 2008 Olympics. Arthaud, 57, was considered to be one of the world’s best sailors.

Former Arsenal forward Sylvain Wiltord, a reported contestant on the reality show who was not in either helicopter, tweeted: “I am sad for my friends, I tremble, I am horrified, I have no words, I cannot say anything.”

French President Francois Hollande said in a statement published on the website of French daily Liberation: “The brutal demise of our compatriots is an immense sadness.”

“Apparently, the two helicopters collided as they were filming. There are no survivors,” said provincial spokesman Horacio Alarcon. He said the weather conditions were good and the cause of the crash was unknown.

Five people were said to be in each helicopter, four French nationals and an Argentinian pilot.

'Race to civilisation'

Dropped is labelled by its creators Zodiak Media as "a race to civilisation". Several versions of the programme are running on TV channels across Europe.

The French TV network version, on TF1, flies celebrities into inhospitable areas of the world and records their attempts to accumulate food and shelter.

"Two teams of celebrities are dropped from a helicopter into some of the most inhospitable places on earth. Their goal: survive and find civilisation as fast as they can," says Zodiak Media.

Filming had already started late last month at Ushuaia, in the remote south of Argentina, and then relocated into the highland of western province of Rioja.

This is not a first tragedy involving a show produced for TF1. Two years ago the 2013 season of the adventure show Koh-Lanta was cancelled after a participant died during the first day of production.