France has opened a manslaughter investigation into the crash involving two helicopters in Argentina that killed all 10 people on board, including eight French nationals. An Argentine television network showed a video footage of the moments when the two helicopters collided while filming a reality show on Sunday.
A team of French experts are scheduled to arrive at the crash site on Wednesday, and are expected to work along with Argentine investigators to determine the cause of the crash. Officials reportedly said Tuesday that the helicopters were in good condition and both Argentine pilots were experienced. Investigators are speculating that blinding sunlight or thermal updrafts could be possible causes for the collision, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Daniel Gorkich, the aviation director of La Rioja, told AP that at the moment of impact "the sun was setting on the Andes mountain range directly in front of them. Also this is an area with wind gusts" -- factors that could have contributed to the accident.
France's Olympic gold medal swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud died in the crash that occurred near Villa Castelli in La Rioja province, about 730 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. The Argentine pilots were identified as Juan Carlos Castillo and Roberto Abate.
Andres Navarrete, mayor of Lamadrid, the northwestern municipality that includes the town of Villa Castelli, located close to the crash site, told AP that Castillo had "an entire life of experiences" flying helicopter.
French President Francois Hollande said the incident was "a cause of immense sadness." The accident also raised questions over dangers of filming reality programs under extreme conditions.
The two helicopters were reportedly involved in the filming of TV survival show “Dropped,” which airs on French channel TF1. The reality show films celebrities finding food and shelter as they are flown into rough terrain.
"We don't have the heart to continue with the program, but maybe in the future we'll pick it back up because its concept is beautiful," Louis Bodin, the show’s director, told Argentine television station Todo Noticias, according to AP. "At the moment, we are very sad."