Paris - Three
French sports stars - Olympic swimmer Camille Muffat, yachtswoman
Florence Arthaud and boxer Alexis Vastine - were among 10 people
killed when two helicopters collided in Argentina on Monday during the
filming of a reality TV show.
Authorities said it was still
unclear what caused the accident in the rugged western province of La
Rioja near the Andes mountains.
"The sudden death of our fellow
French nationals is a cause of immense sadness," French President
Francois Hollande's office said in a statement.
Two pilots and
several members of the ALP TV production company involved in shooting
the adventure show "Dropped" for private TV station TF1 were among the
dead, officials said.
"The whole of French sport is in mourning
because we have lost three huge champions," Thierry Braillard, junior
minister for sports, town and youth affairs, told RTL radio.
Arthaud - we all knew her as the 'Fiancee of the Atlantic'," he said,
referring to a nickname she earned through her many daring voyages
including a 1990 record for the fastest solitary crossing of that body
TF1 issued a statement expressing solidarity for the
victims' families. French media said filming had been suspended and the
crew and other contestants were heading back to France.
no details on the exact circumstances at the moment," TF1 chief
executive Nonce Paolini said. "All I can say at the moment is that we
are in a state of complete shock."
"Dropped" involves contestants being left in the wilderness and using their skills to find their way back to civilisation.
The collision was the second time in two years that a reality show produced by ALP for TF1 had been hit by tragedy.
April 2013 the doctor charged with looking after the contestants in
the long-running Koh-Lanta endurance show committed suicide after one
of the competitors died following one of the tests, complaining of
Arthaud, 57, was one of the first women to carve a place for herself in the top levels of sailing.
had a brush with death in 2011 when she fell off her boat into the
Mediterranean, but rescuers whisked her out after she called her mother
by mobile phone.
Muffat, 25, won 400 metres freestyle gold at the 2012 London Olympics. Vastine, 28, won bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
am sad for my friends, I'm shaking, I'm horrified, I can't find the
words," Sylvain Wiltord, ex-footballer for English Premier League club
Arsenal and fellow cast member tweeted.
The victims included the helicopters' two pilots, La Rioja's security chief Cesar Angulo told reporters earlier.
"There were no survivors, according to the information we have," Angulo said.
official news agency Telam said one of the helicopters belonged to the
provincial government and the other to organisers of a survival
competition that had been held for three years near the village of