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France helicopter crash: Five dead in Alpine accident, authorities confirm

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The Col du Glandon, near Saint Colomban Des Villards, a mountain pass in the Dauphine Alps in Savoie
The Col du Glandon, near Saint Colomban Des Villards, a mountain pass in the Dauphine Alps in Savoie   -   Copyright  JEFF PACHOUD / AFP
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Five people were killed after a helicopter crashed at high altitude in the French Alps on Tuesday evening, authorities have confirmed.

A sixth person, the pilot, managed to eject himself from the aircraft and raised the alarm. He is now in hospital in Grenoble after being found by a search team.

The prefecture of the Savoie department, in eastern France, said in a statement on Wednesday that the helicopter crashed at an altitude of 1,800m in the late afternoon.

It added that those who died were two first-aid workers from CRS Alpes, including the team leader, as well as three employees of the Service Aérien Francais (SAF), a private company.

Authorities were alerted about the crash shortly after 19:00 CET.

A 40-person-strong search and rescue team, as well as three helicopters, were deployed to find the six people but the operation was hampered by thick fog, which prevented the helicopters from getting close to the crash site.

"A doctor and a rescue team arrived at the zone at 20:20. Contact was established with one of the vehicle's occupants," the prefecture said on Tuesday evening.

An emergency centre has been set up at a hospital in Albertville offering medical and psychological support.

In the latest statement, the prefect of Savoie, Pascal Bolot, addressed his sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims, paying tribute to "these men who dedicated their lives to the service of those of others".