French say 3 soldiers survive Gabon chopper crash

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The Independent Online

Rescuers were searching for six French soldiers missing after a helicopter crashed into icy Atlantic waters during a training exercise off Gabon's coast, France's military said Sunday.

Three soldiers have been found alive, but one soldier died when the chopper went down shortly after taking off late Saturday from a French naval vessel participating in the joint exercise with Gabon forces, military spokesman Lt. Col. Pascal Carpentier said.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

Two rescue helicopters were searching the zone where the aircraft went down off Nyogne, a village between the west African country's capital of Libreville and the oil port of Port Gentil.

Rescue crews found the body of one dead soldier overnight, Carpentier said, without giving any further detail about the victim.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged that all available means would be deployed in the search.

France's defense minister, Herve Morin, was expected to arrive at the crash site Sunday afternoon, Carpentier said.

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