Investigators picked through the wreckage of two helicopters Tuesday, removing cellphones, bits of paper and other charred and unrecognizable items, as France mourned the loss of prominent athletes in the dual crash in the Andean foothills.
The eight French nationals and two Argentine pilots on the two aircraft were killed when they collided and burst into flames shortly after taking off Monday near the remote settlement of Villa Castelli in northwestern Argentina.
Among the victims were Olympic champion swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic bronze-medalist boxer Alexis Vastine and pioneering sailor Florence Arthaud. They were contestants on the reality TV show “Dropped,” which was being shot in the sparsely populated region.
Expressions of grief poured in from French athletes and officials, including President Francois Holland, who said he felt “immense sadness.” The International Olympic Committee announced it would fly its flag at half-staff for three days.
French officials said they would work with Argentine investigators to determine the cause of the accident.
La Rioja’s aviation director, Daniel Gorkich, told The Associated Press that both pilots were highly trained and he speculated that afternoon sun and strong winds might have been a factor.