3 dead in chopper crash during rescue mission in France

Three people were killed in a helicopter crash in southern France on Monday, while on a mission to rescue victims of heavy flooding in the area, authorities said.

French police establish a security perimeter Monday near the site of a helicopter crash in Le Rove, about 10 miles away from Marseilles in southern France. Photo by Guillaume Horcajuelo

Officials said the chopper was flying in darkness around the Var region when it lost radio contact. A pilot, engineer and firefighter were on board the helicopter when it crashed near Rove. The town is located about 10 miles northwest of Marseilles.

Fog in the area may have contributed to poor visibility during the flight, authorities said. An investigation has not yet determined a cause.

Officials said the chopper was flying a rescue mission between Marseilles and Saint Tropez.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner called the three dead “everyday heroes who gave their lives to protect the French.”

Two other people have also died following heavy rains in recent days along France’s Mediterranean coast, officials said.

The helicopter crash comes a week after 13 French soldiers died in a helicopter accident in Northern Mali while battling Muslim jihadist fighters. Six officers and a master corporal were among the dead in the crash.

The crash increased the number of French military deaths in Mali to 41 since they became involved in fighting the Islamist insurgency there.

That incident happened when an attack helicopter collided with a military transport helicopter while chasing a ground force of insurgents.

ByClyde Hughes