PARIS, July 25 (Reuters) - Five people were killed when a helicopter crashed in a mountainous region of southeast France on Wednesday during a test flight, police said.
The crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. (1130 GMT) in a steep section of the Verdon Gorge in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region near the border with Italy, according to local police who had not yet determined the cause.
“There are five victims,” Benoit Gounine, a regional police lieutenant, told Reuters. There were no details on the victims’ identities and Gounine said search teams were at the site investigating the cause of the crash.
“The accident occurred in a place that’s very difficult to access, which is complicating our work,” he added.
Police and the defence ministry said the downed aircraft was a Cougar made by Eurocopter, a unit of European aerospace group EADS. It had taken off shortly beforehand from a heliport near the Mediterranean port city of Marseille.
The Verdon Gorge is a stunning river canyon popular with hikers that runs up 700 metres (2,300 feet) deep. (Reporting By Francois Revilla; Writing by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Catherine Bremer and Mark Heinrich)