At least seven soldiers were killed and one soldier remained missing after a French military helicopter crashed off the coast of the central African country of Gabon, the French government announced on Sunday.
One soldier was found dead shortly after the crash, while five bodies of the six missing were found by rescue divers later on Sunday. One of the three people rescued alive later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.
The Cougar helicopter in which the accident took place had been participating in a joint manoeuvre with the military of Gabon, a former long time French colony.
The cause of the accident was still unknown. French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a speedy and complete investigation into the accident.
According to the French military, a number of ships and helicopters took part in the search and rescue, including three ships from the oil company Total.