Five people were killed when a medical evacuation helicopter flight crashed into a mountainside in northern Corsica. The helicopter contained a young woman who gave birth during the flight, a doctor, the pilot and co-pilot.
AFP - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Sunday he was "greatly saddened" after a helicopter crash in Corsica killed five people including a 20-year-old mother and her newborn baby.
The woman gave birth during the flight that was to take her to a hospital in Bastia but both died when the helicopter went down 30 minutes after takeoff. A woman doctor, the pilot and co-pilot were also killed.
Sarkozy said he "was greatly saddened by the helicopter accident" and offered condolences to the families of the victims, in a statement issued by his office.
"This tragic accident leaves Corsica and all civilian security staff in mourning," he said.
Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie traveled to Corsica to personally offer condolences to the families and meet with civilian security officials.
The helicopter had disappeared from the radar screens after taking off from Ponte Lettia heliport in Upper Corsica late Saturday with the pregnant woman on board.
Local prefect Herve Bouchaert said the helicopter flew into a mountain in poor weather and that "the impact must have been brutal."
The pilot and co-pilot, both experienced according to Bouchaert, did not send a distress signal and the medical team did not suspect that the woman was so close to delivery.
Weather conditions were poor with fog, wind and rain.
A total of 150 rescue workers were mobilised to look for the wreckage that was found broken in several pieces in the early hours on Sunday and the five bodies were recovered soon after.
Date created : 2009-04-26