French Experts Go to Argentina to Probe Reality TV Tragedy
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - French air investigators headed Wednesday to Argentina to probe a collision between two helicopters which killed ten people, including three of France's best-known sports personalities, as they took part in a reality TV show.
The two French officials will join Argentine investigators who are already combing through the wreckage, looking for clues to what caused the helicopters to smash into each other shortly after takeoff in the rugged mountains of La Rioja province.
The crash on Monday killed Olympic champion swimmer Camille Muffat, yachtswoman Florence Arthaud and Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine, as well as five French TV crew members and two Argentine pilots, AFP reported.
Emergency workers removed the victims' remains from the wreckage near the small northwestern town of Villa Castelli on Tuesday and took them to the morgue in the provincial capital, about 300 kilometers (200 miles) from the crash site.
The victims' bodies were burnt beyond recognition, provincial security secretary Luis Cesar Angulo told AFP.
There were no survivors in the crash, which authorities said happened in good weather.
French prosecutors have opened a manslaughter investigation -- standard procedure when a French citizen dies abroad.
"Dropped", which was to air on French channel TF1 later this year, involved eight sports stars being dropped in the wild for a survival contest.
Video taken from the ground showed the two helicopters flying extremely close together, then their rotors clipping and both aircraft plummeting to the ground.
Franck Firmin-Guion, head of Adventure Line Productions (ALP) that is making the show, said: "Suddenly, (one of the helicopters) swerved off course and hit the other one."
It was the worst accident in the history of reality television.
French President Francois Hollande led the tributes, expressing his "immense sadness."
Muffat, 25, won three medals at the 2012 London Olympics, including gold in the 400-meter freestyle, sealing her status as one of the best swimmers in French history.