Five Dead in French Flooding, Rescue Helicopter Crash

December 3, 2019 Updated: December 3, 2019

PARIS—Three emergency workers were killed overnight when their helicopter crashed while on a rescue mission in southeastern France, while two other people died in heavy flooding that has hit the region, officials said on Dec. 2.

The EC145 rescue helicopter lost radio and radar contact with controllers as it headed to Le Luc—Le Carnet in the hilly Var region.

The bodies of the three occupants were found at about 1:30 a.m. local time (7:30 p.m. New York time), an interior ministry statement said.

France’s Mediterranean coast has been hit by heavy rain over the last week that has led to serious flooding and widespread transport disruption.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner drew a parallel between the three workers to 13 French soldiers who were killed last week in Mali while fighting Islamist militants and who were being honored Dec. 2 in Paris.

“As France prepares today to mourn 13 of its soldiers who died serving the nation, our country is losing three everyday heroes who gave their lives to protect the people of France,” Castaner and his deputy said in a statement.

Local officials reported the deaths of two people swept away by the floodwaters.

French media reported that one was a shepherd whose 4×4 vehicle was carried away by a flash flood as he crossed a ford. The other was the owner of a stable who had been out watching over his animals.