Subj: Helicopter wreckage found near French observatory
Date: 12/16/99 5:04:04 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: (New Millennium)
To: (Newmill)

12/16/1999 07:47:00 ET

Helicopter wreckage found near French observatory

GRENOBLE, France (Reuters) - Rescuers spotted the wreckage on Thursday
of a helicopter which crashed en route from an observatory in the French
Alps, the scene of a cable car disaster last July.

Police said they still did not know whether the five people on board had
survived and ski patrols were being sent to the scene.

One passenger, a doctor, used his mobile phone to call for help after
the helicopter crashed on Wednesday. There has been no fresh contact
since, and poor weather hampered the search by three helicopters and
some 100 mountain experts.

The wreckage was spotted at the foot of a cliff, not far from the place
where the cable car crashed on the way up to the stellar observatory
atop the 2,700-metre (8,900 ft) Pic de Bure, killing all 20 men aboard.

Helicopters have been ferrying staff and equipment to the observatory
since the cable car has not yet been repaired. The observatory has no
access road.

The observatory, run by a Franco-German-Spanish institute near the ski
resort of Saint-Etienne-en-Devoluy, is used by astronomers from all over
the world to monitor stellar activity through six huge dishes