Baby killed in air crash just minutes after birth

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A baby, born in mid-air in a medical helicopter, died minutes later when the aircraft crashed into Corsican mountains, killing its mother, a doctor and two pilots.

President Nicolas Sarkozy today expressed his “deep distress” at the unexplained accident, which happened near Bastia in northern Corsica on Saturday night.

The civil defence helicopter was sent to a clinic in the small town of Ponte-Leccia after a 20 years old woman went into emergency labour. She was taken on a 15 minute flight to hospital in Bastia but the machine crashed into a 500 metre high ridge of the Lancone mountains in mist and high winds.

Rescue workers who located the crash site in the early hours found the bodies of the mother, a 43 years old female accident and emergency doctor and the pilots, aged 56 and 42. They also discovered the remains of the newborn baby.

No distress message was sent by the helicopter and no message to say that the baby had been born in flight.

“Both the pilots were experienced and had worked in Corsica for several years and were used to this kind of flight,” said Hervé Bouchaert, the prefect in upper Corsica. He added that the weather was “appalling”.

A statement by President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke of his “great distress” and “very great sadness” that a medical flight had ended so tragically. An investigation is under way.