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Five soldiers killed in French army helicopter crash

Five soldiers killed in French army helicopter crash

Police cordoned off roads around the crash site, and some three dozen police and military officials were dispatched to the scene, according to a local gendarme.

"The helicopters collided. There were three army personnel in one and two in the other".

Five army officers were killed Friday after two training helicopters crashed into each other near a lake in southern France, officials said.

A director at the nearby EALAT light-aircraft training school where the two Gazelle helicopters were based said the two instructors at the controls each had 3,000 to 5,000 hours of flight on their record.

A spokeswoman for the French army said the crash occurred Friday near the town of Brignoles, in the Var region between Marseilles and Cannes.

Roads were cordoned off in the surrounding area as a result of scattered debris.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly who rushed to the incident site called the crash "a disaster" and " a tragedy".

The helicopters involved were both Aérospatiale Gazelles - a model favoured by the French military.

The Gazelle is a French five-seat helicopter, commonly used for light transport, scouting and light attack duties.

The Ealat website says the flying school at Cannet des Maures has 82 aircraft and trains French, German and Spanish helicopter pilots.

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