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France on Tuesday awoke to the news of the deaths of three sports legends in an accident during the filming of new reality survival show Dropped following the overnight crash of two helicopters on the Argentinian set.
Celebrities and public figures mourned the deaths Tuesday morning.
Among the victims were eight French nationals, including three sports stars: record-setting sailor Florence Arthaud, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Camille Muffat and Olympic bronze medalist boxer Alexis Vastine. The five other victims, identified by Argentinian authorities, are Laurent Sbasnik, Lucy Mei-Dalby, Volodia Guinard, Brice Guilbert, and Edouard Gilles. All worked for the show’s production company Adventure Line Productions (ALP), reported newspaper Le Monde.
TF1 issued a brief statement overnight on behalf of CEO Nonce Paolini: “We learn with great sadness about the accident during the filming of the show Dropped. Nonce Paolini and all the TF1 teams come together at this terrible time with the pain of the families and those close to the victims.”
Dropped began filming earlier this month and was set to air this summer on the top-rated French network.
It is the second reality tragedy for TF1 and producer ALP, following the death of a contestant on Survivor-style Koh-Lanta and the subsequent suicide of the show’s resident doctor in 2013.
“All the ALP teams have collapsed with and join in the deep pain of the families and those close to the victims. We are in contact with the production teams on site, and with the French and Argentine authorities. We will communicate more information as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.
Koh-Lanta host Denis Brogniart expressed his sympathy on Twitter, along with French and American sports stars and public figures. “Devastated by this tragedy. 10 dead, including three exceptional champions and 5 cameramen and journalists I knew very well. Peace to their souls,” Brogniart said.
French president Francois Hollande posted on his official Twitter account in the morning: “The sudden death of our compatriots is an immense sadness.”
A statement issued overnight by the French White House, the Elysee Palace, initially confirmed the tragedy. “The President of the Republic has learned with shock and emotion of the death of 10 people, including eight of our countrymen in an accident between two helicopters in Argentina while participating in the production of a television show for TF1” it said. “The President of the Republic expresses his condolences to the families and friends of the victims and assures them of his solidarity.”
Minister of Sports Thierry Braillard said on Twitter: “The horror turns into disbelief. To those who perished in the crash RIP. Deep thoughts for Camille, Florence and Alexis.”
Prime Minister Manuel Valls also tweeted: “Immense pain in this tragedy. This is a France who is grieving this morning. Support to the families of the victims.”
Cannes Film Festival president Pierre Lescure expressed grief and anger at the accident. “Florence, who faced the raging waters alone, Camille who wanted to live free, Alexis and his future…and all the others who did the work. The deep sadness, the destroyed families. And rage to die for a survival game.”
French soccer star Sylvain Wiltord, who had played for English club side Arsenal, was part of the show’s cast but not involved in the accident. “I am sad for my friends, I tremble, I am horrified, I have no words, I mean nothing #sadness #tears #IamParis,” he wrote on Twitter.
A post on the official Twitter and Facebook page of Olympic medalist skater Phillipe Candeloro, who was also part of the cast, confirmed that he was not hurt. “I confirm that in this terrible tragedy Philippe Candeloro is extremely shocked but unharmed…I got it soon after this monstrous drama that saw the death of 10 people, the absolute horror,” an administrator posted.
American swimmers also expressed sadness. “Absolutely devastating news. A life taken away too soon. RIP Camille Muffat,” wrote Olympic bronze medalist Jessica Hardy.
Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans wrote: “Shocked and saddened to hear of Camille Muffat’s passing. An incredible athlete and an inspiration to us all.”
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