Four police officers killed as helicopter crashes into ski resort mountains

Four police officers were killed when their helicopter crashed in a ski resort in south-west France on Friday. The officers died when their helicopter smashed into a rock face during an emergency landing attempt after an equipment failure. Two helicopters were sent to the site in the mountainous region of Cauterets, close to the Spanish border, to search the difficult terrain for wreckage and the bodies of the victims.

Given the circumstances and the location of the crash, it is unlikely that there are survivors

Gen Clouzot, regional gendarmerie commander

The helicopter, which took off from the airport in Laloubère, was taking part in a mountain rescue training course. It belonged to the gendarmerie – the country’s paramilitary unit, which posted a black armband on its Facebook site as a mark of respect. Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced he would meet the dead officers’ colleagues on Friday evening. The crash area, with such hill-top towns as Luz-Saint Sauveur and Gèdre, becomes a popular skiing destination during the winter months.

Helicopter crash in the Hautes-Pyrenees. Immense sadness. Heartfelt thoughts to the families and colleagues of the dead policemen.

France prime minister Manuel Valls