Four people – the pilot and three passengers – were killed in a helicopter crash in the southern canton of Ticino on Saturday morning. Two other people who had been on board managed to get out beforehand.
The helicopter, belonging to the private Ticino-based company Heli TV, came down near a granite quarry at the village of Lodrino about 25 kilometres north of the cantonal capital, Bellinzona. The occupants, all local residents, died on the spot.
The police said in a statement carried on their website that the helicopter had originally had four passengers on board as well as the pilot and a flight assistant. It was flying to the nearby mountains, and was on the point of landing, when its main rotor clipped a rock face. The flight assistant had already disembarked, and on seeing what had happened, managed to help one of the passengers to leave the machine.
At that point, the pilot regained height to return to base, but for reasons that are not yet clear, lost control during the flight and crashed.
The police said an inquiry into the cause of the accident was underway.
A reporter for Italian-language public television said the passengers were thought to have been on their way to help set up a festive event due to be held later on Saturday. A police representative told the television that the pilot was experienced, and knew the area well.
On its website Heli TV describes itself as a leader in transporting equipment, assembling power lines and prefabricated houses and in logging operations.
swissinfo.ch and agencies