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Air incident Five Swiss killed in a helicopter crash in France

The wreckage of the helicopter, which came down in the garden of a suburban house

(Prefecture du Doubs)

A helicopter travelling between the Swiss city of Lausanne and Montbéliard in France crashed on Thursday morning, while attempting to land at its destination. Five of the seven people on board – all Swiss – were killed, authorities said.

Of the survivors freed from the wreckage, one person was taken to the hospital in Besançon while the other who was seriously injured, was transported to Switzerland by the Swiss air rescue service REGA. The occupants of the helicopter were aged between 45 and 63.

The passengers included five men and one woman, all from the Lausanne-based Vaud Business Federation. The group were on their way to France to visit the the Peugeot factory in Sochaux, according to Pierre Genzi, president of a business association that had invited the Swiss delegation.

According to eyewitnesses "the helicopter dropped like a stone," reported Pierre Schlatter, the mayor of Bart. "The helicopter was in the approach zone, just minutes from landing. It fell on a hangar only a few metres away from a house," he added.

The EC 130 helicopter came down at 9:30am in the grounds of a house in the commune of Bart, in the French department of Doubs, a few hundred metres away from the Montbéliard airfield.

At a press conference held by the local prosecutor on Thursday afternoon, it was revealed that there was significant cloud cover in the area at the time of the accident. The pilot had been in contact with the control tower to say he was looking for a gap in the fog to land, before the accident happened. 

The Lausanne-based company that hired out the helicopter said the aircraft was a recent model in good condition, being flown by an experienced pilot. 

Experts are due at the scene to begin investigating the cause of the crash. The police of canton Vaud have also requested permission to attend the site as observers. 

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