Two French soldiers are killed and five seriously hurt as their helicopter crashes in the Pyrenees
- The Cougar military helicopter crashed in the Pyrenees near the town of Lameac
- Two French soldiers have been killed while five remain seriously injured
- A French army spokesman has said the victims were aged between 25 and 38
- Adjudent-Chef Olivier Michel and Brigadier Vincent Monguillon lost their lives
Two French soldiers died and five others were seriously injured when a Cougar military helicopter crashed in the Pyrenees on Wednesday.
The horrific accident saw the transport aircraft come down in a field close to the town of Lameac, near Tarbes, on Wednesday afternoon.
‘The helicopter was performing an exercise when the accident happened,’ said French Army spokesman Benoît Brulon, who said the victims were aged between 25 and 38.
‘There were a total of seven people on board,’ he said, without identifying any of them.
Two French soldiers died and five others were seriously injured when a Cougar military helicopter crashed in the Pyrenees in a field close to the town of Lameac
Emergency and military services rushed to the scene but two of the men could not be saved
The French Defense Ministry confirmed Adjudent-Chef Olivier Michel (L) and Brigadier Vincent Monguillon (R) lost their lives in the tragedy
The seven on board were traveling in a military helicopter similar to the model pictured
They were all members of the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment (RHC), who are based at Pau, close to France’s border with Spain.
The Eurocopter AS532 Cougar, which is designed to carry both troops and equipment, crashed in ‘fair weather’ according to witnesses.
‘We heard a noise and then saw thick smoke rising in the sky,’ said one, speaking to local media.
He added: ‘At first we thought it was a farmer who started the fire.. Then we saw all the emergency vehicles.’
Two of the injured were evacuated by helicopter, and three by road, to hospitals in Tarbes and Toulouse.
The Pyrenees mountain range is a popular military training area for the French armed forces
Tarbes prosecutor Pierre Aurignac confirmed that an investigation had been launched, and that he was on his way to the scene.
Florence Parly, France’s defence minister, was also due to make a statement.
Last November, seven members of the RHC based in Pau died when a Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter collided with a Eurocopter AS532 Cougar military transport helicopter at low-altitude at night while on a sortie near the town of Ménaka in Northern Mali.
The helicopters were pursuing enemy fighters in vehicles and motor-bikes, after ground forces had called in air support.
The helicopters collided and crashed, with all on board dying. An investigation into the disaster is ongoing.