Two helicopters of the French army crashed Friday morning in circumstances still poorly cleared in the south-east of France, killing five, a very heavy toll for this type of accident.
The two aircraft crashed – probably after crashing – near Lake Carcès, about fifty kilometers from Saint-Tropez.
In one of the helicopters, rescue found three bodies. A fourth victim was extracted from the other helicopter, according to the prefecture of the department of Var. A fifth body was searched under the cabin of a plane, according to the gendarmes.
The victims of the disaster were all officers, added a source close to the investigation.
The helicopters involved in the accident are two Gazelle from the School of Light Aviation Army (EALAT), one of whose bases is located in Cannet des Maures, a locality, said the prefecture.
Expressing “his deep respect for the commitment of these officers”, President Emmanuel Macron sent “his heartfelt condolences” to the families and relatives of the victims.
Waited on the spot in the coming hours, the Minister of the Armies Florence Parly for her part expressed on Twitter of her “very strong emotion” and assured the relatives of the victims of her “solidarity” and her “total support”.
The Gazelle, whose first copies came into service in the army in the early 1970s, is a light helicopter reconnaissance and attack of French manufacture.
Founded in 1957, the base of the Cannet des Maures now hosts one of the EALAT sites. It includes the staff of the school and three training centers, including a school base that operates 27 Gazelle, 17 Fennec and 13 Puma.
Friday’s drama is one of the most serious in recent years in France. On May 20, 2016, a gendarmerie helicopter crashed in the southwest, killing four gendarmes. The investigation concluded that the pilot was mistaken.
On April 25, 2009, five people, including a baby born in flight and his mother had died in Corsica in the crash of a Civil Security helicopter crashed in bad weather in the mountains, trying to win hospital of the city of Bastia.