Army helicopters crash in southern France, killing 5 officers

Five French Army officers were killed on Friday when a pair of army helicopters crashed in southern France.

“One of the helicopters broke up and crashed onto a road. The second crashed about 150-200 metres away and burned,” Jean-Luc Videlaine, prefect of the Var region, said.

Officials said both Gazelle helicopters belonged to a military flying school called Ealat in France’s Var region, BBC reported.

Var-Matin reported that crash happened before 9 a.m. local time (0800 GMT). Photos obtained by the news site appeared to show one helicopter in the middle of a road, with firefighters and other emergency crews at the scene near Carces lake, north of St. Tropez.

Police in Brignoles said the five people in the helicopters – all army officers – were killed, AFP reported.

The cause of the crash is still unknown.

The Aerospatiale Gazelle lightweight multi-role helicopter seats four passengers and a pilot. The French Army has operated the helicopter since it was introduced in the early 1970s. Last year France chose the Airbus Helicopters H160M to replace a number of its aging SA342 Gazelles.

Earlier on Friday, Flight Global reported that that the army had begun “early definition work” with Airbus on the H160Ms.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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