French Olympians among 10 dead in Argentina air crash

Published 7:35 am Tuesday, March 10, 2015

BUENOS AIRES — Two helicopters carrying French sports stars filming a popular European reality show crashed in a remote part of Argentina, killing 10 people, including two Olympic medal winners and a sailing champion, authorities said.

The helicopters apparently collided in the air Monday near Villa Castelli in La Rioja province, about 730 miles (1,170 kilometers) northwest of Buenos Aires, La Rioja Secretary of Security Cesar Angulo told TN television. All 10 people on board — eight French nationals and two Argentine pilots — were killed.

“An explosion occurred and it’s believed that they collided,” said Angulo, referring to the helicopters. Photographs showed the burning and smoking wreckage of the helicopters on the ground in dry scrubland, with people gathered nearby.

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Among the dead were French Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud, according to a statement from La Rioja’s government. They were taking part in the reality show “Dropped.”

The deaths are likely to place new attention on the risks involved with reality TV shows, which have been highly popular and sometimes involve taking celebrities and others to far-flung locations to faces challenges against the natural elements — both physical and mental.