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Helicopter crashes in southeastern France, 6 dead
French official says 6 people have died in helicopter crash in southeastern France
By The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) Six people died when a helicopter crashed into an area often referred to as France's answer to the Grand Canyon on Wednesday, according to officials.

Francis Mene, a defense official, said the helicopter crashed while carrying out a test flight in the Verdon Gorge in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in southeastern France.

Stephane Chery, the head of International Media Relations for aviation company Eurocopter, said all six were company employees. The EADS-owned firm earlier issued a statement confirming the aircraft involved was manufactured by them, adding that they were working on identifying the circumstances and exact cause of the accident.

The rocky, limestone area seen as France's answer to the Grand Canyon is one of Europe's most beautiful river canyons and extremely popular with tourists and hikers. At 700 meters (2297 feet) deep, it is also one of Europe's biggest.

Mene, speaking on French station BFM-TV, said the helicopter crashed "very deep in the gorge" near the village of Aiguines. He did not speculate on the causes behind the accident.

Eurocopter is yet to reveal the identities of those involved. There was no one else onboard.

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