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French sports stars die in helicopter tragedy

French sports stars die in helicopter tragedy

Fola Akintomide

French Olympic stars Camille Muffat and Alexis Vastine were among 10 people killed in a helicopter crash in Argentina while filming for a reality TV show.
Muffat, 25, won 400 metres freestyle swimming gold at the 2012 London Olympics. Vastine, 28, won a boxing bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Yachtswoman Florence Arthaud also died aged 57. She one of the first prominent female sailors and in 1990 secured the record for the fastest solitary crossing of the North Atlantic.

Former France and Arsenal football star Sylvain Wiltord was on the cast for the show, but was not involved in the crash.

He tweeted: “I am sad for my friends, I’m shaking, I’m horrified, I can’t find the words.”

The accident happened when two helicopters collided in the rugged western province of La Rioja near the Andes mountains, local authorities said, adding that the cause was not currently known.

“The sudden death of our fellow French nationals is a cause of immense sadness,” a statement from French President Francois Hollande’s office in Paris said.

It added that several members of the ALP TV production company involved in shooting the adventure show ‘Dropped’ for TV station TF1 were among the dead.

TF1 issued a statement expressing sadness and solidarity for the families of the victims. ‘Dropped’ involves contestants being left in the wilderness and having to use their skills to find their way back to civilisation.

The victims included the helicopters’ two pilots, Cesar Angulo, La Rioja’s security chief, told reporters earlier.

“There were no survivors, according to the information we have,” Angulo said.

Argentina’s official news agency Telam said one of the helicopters belonged to the provincial government and the other to organizers of a survival competition that had been held for three years near the village of Villa Castelli.