Camille Muffat, 25, a swimmer who won gold in the women’s 400m freestyle in 2012, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine, 28, who won bronze in Beijing 2008, and champion sailor Florence Arthaud, 58, were all among the dead.
They died alongside two Argentine pilots and five other French nationals when two helicopters filming the survival series Dropped smashed into each other in a rugged mountain range.
Sylvain Wiltord, a 40-year-old former Arsenal footballer who won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups, was in the show, but was not on board either of the helicopters.
Wiltord tweeted early this morning: “I am sad for my friends, I’m trembling, I’m horrified, I have no words, I don’t want to say anything.”
Authorities said it was still unclear what caused the accident in the western province of La Rioja near the Andes.
Camille Muffat, an Olympic swimmer who won gold in the freestyle at London 2012 and is a former world record holder died in the helicopter crash
The accident happened at around 5pm on Monday shortly after the two aircraft took off in a mountainous region of La Rioja, in Argentina’s North West.
Disel Cuneo, government spokesman for the province, said: “There are several French nationals among the victims. So far we only know of two Argentine victims.”
There were unconfirmed reports that one of the victims died after jumping out of one of the helicopters seconds before they crashed.
Another provincial spokesman, Horacio Alarcon, said that the two helicopters appeared to have collided during filming. “There are no survivors,” he added.
She won gold during the 400m freestyle at London 2012, earned silver in the women’s 200m freestyle and a bronze as a member of the women’s 4×200m freestyle relay.
She was the third Frenchwoman in history to earn three medals in a summer or winter Olympic Games and was named the 2012 French Sportswoman of the Year.
She shocked the sporting world in June by announcing her sudden retirement at the age of 24, exhausted by the long hours of training in the pool.
Alexis Vastine won bronze for boxing in the Light Welterweight category at the Beijing Olympics, and competed at London 2012, but was knocked out in the quarter finals.
Florence Arthaud was regarded as one of the world’s best sailors, and won the Route du Rhum, a transatlantic single-handed yacht race that takes place every four years.
Alexis Vastine, a boxer who won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (left) and Florence Arthaud, who won the transatlantic sailing race Route du Rhum in 1990, were also reported to have been killed
French President Francois Hollande in a statement published on the website of the French daily Liberation: “The brutal demise of our compatriots is an immense sadness.”
– By Daily Mail