French sports stars are among 10 people dead after a midair collision between two helicopters while filming a reality TV show.
Among the dead are two Olympic medal winners and a sailing champion, according to Argentinian authorities.
The helicopters crashed yesterday near Villa Castelli in La Rioja, north west Argentina, during production of a show called Dropped.
In total eight French people were killed along with two Argentinian pilots.
Among the dead were French Olympic gold medal swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud, according to a statement from La Rioja’s government.
Secretary of Security Cesar Angulo said: ‘An explosion occurred and it’s believed that they collided.’
Photographs showed the burning and smoking wreckage of the helicopters on the ground in dry scrubland with people gathered nearby.
In a statement the show’s producers Adventure Line said: ‘All the ADL teams are devastated and share the deep pain of the families and loved ones they are in contact with.
‘We are in contact with the production teams on site (and) with the French and Argentine authorities. We will give more information as soon as possible.’
French President Francois Hollande said: ‘The brutal demise of our compatriats is an immense sadness.’
Muffat, 25, won the gold medal in the 400-metre freestyle at the Olympic Games in 2012, adding a silver medal in the 200-metre freestyle and a bronze in the 4 by 200-metre freestyle relay. She had since retired from swimming to focus on her personal life.
Vastine won a bronze medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing, but his semifinal loss to Manuel Felix Diaz was marred in controversy as he was docked points by the referee in the final round. Vastine broke down in tears after the defeat.
In 2012, he lost in the quarterfinals at the London Games also amid controversy when he drew on points against Taras Shelestyuk of Ukraine but lost on the countback rule, thus missing out on a medal.
Arthaud, who was 57, was a pioneer in sailing. In 1990, she won the famed Route du Rhum race – a trans-Atlantic single-handed yacht race between Brittany and the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe – on her boat Pierre 1er.
Former France and Arsenal striker Sylvain Wiltord, ice skating champion Philippe Candeloro, former Olympic swimming champion Alain Bernard and veteran cyclist Jeannie Longo are among the other French athletes who took part in the show, but none were involved in the accident.
The Argentine statement identified the remaining victims as Laurent Sbasnik, Lucie Mei-Dalby, Volodia Guinard, Brice Guilbert and Edouard Gilles, as well as Argentine pilots Juan Carlos Castillo and Roberto Abate.