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Indian tourists killed in worst ever helicopter crash

The helicopters nose-dived into a football field not far from Sion Keystone

Eight people have been killed in Switzerland's worst ever helicopter accident. Police said seven Indian nationals were among those who died when two Air-Glaciers helicopters collided in canton Valais.

Captain Franziskus Escher of the cantonal police told swissinfo four people had also been injured in the accident, which happened on Tuesday afternoon in Beuson, five kilometres from the town of Sion.

The injured were immediately taken to a hospital in Sion, where doctors said their lives were not in danger.

All six passengers and the Swiss pilot on board one of the helicopters, an Alouette III, were killed. One tourist travelling on the other, a Bell Jet Ranger, died, while the pilot and three other passengers were injured.

Around 60 Indian tourists witnessed the disaster as they waited their turn to go on a round of five-minute sight-seeing flights. They said the helicopters’ rotors touched during a landing approach, causing the aircraft to crash into a football field.

Rescue services have recovered all the bodies from the wreckage.

The site of the crash has been cordoned off by police. An investigation has been opened into the causes of the accident, which experts say is the worst helicopter crash in Swiss aviation history.

Weather conditions were good at the time, and eyewitnesses say human error is the most likely cause of the collision.

The crash was not the first for Air-Glaciers this month. One of their helicopters went down on September 5 in canton Vaud, killing the pilot who was alone on board.

The private company operated five aircraft and three helicopters, which could be hired for anything from business trips to heli-skiing excursions.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR