Five people killed as mountain rescue helicopter crashes in French Alps

Five people killed as mountain rescue helicopter crashes in French Alps
Illustration photo: AFP
French investigators are seeking to ascertain the cause of the crash of a mountain rescue helicopter in the Alps that left five dead and the pilot fighting for his life.

The helicopter, an Airbus EC135 operated by a private firm, crashed Tuesday evening around the town of Bonvillard just outside Albertville, one of the main resorts in the French Alps.

The Préfet for the Savoie département, Pascal Bolot, said of the five passengers and pilot on board only the pilot had survived but was badly injured.

Despite difficult weather conditions with fog at the crash site 1,800 metres above sea level, he was evacuated to hospital.

Bolot said it was the pilot himself who had raised the alarm.

He added that an investigation has been opened by the prosecutor for Albertville but did not offer any explanation over how the crash happened.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin is also due at the scene later on Wednesday. Investigators from France's Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis (BEA) agency for aviation are also set to arrive.

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Two of those killed were members of the police unit responsible for mountain rescues – a captain aged 45 and a brigadier aged 39 – who were taking part in a training exercise, France's national police force said on its Twitter account.

The other three killed were employees of the private firm that operated the helicopter and also employed the pilot.


“To save lives, they take all the risks,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a tweet, paying tribute to those killed and the pilot “fighting for his life”.

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