Toll of helicopter-plane collision over Italian Alps rises to 7

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Two bodies were recovered on a glacier in Italy's northwest Valle d'Aosta region, bringing to 7 the toll of a mid-air collision between a small plane and a helicopter, Italy's Mountain Rescue Service revealed on Saturday.

All search activities were called off after the latest recovery.

The accident occurred on Friday afternoon over the Rutor glacier, which is located in La Thuile Valley at the border with France.

Rescuers with Italy's Mountain Rescue Service and Civil Protection agency found five bodies in the hours immediately after the crash.

Two wounded people -- a French citizen and a Swiss -- were also rescued on Friday, and flown to hospital in the regional capital Aosta, where they remained in intensive care.

Search activities had to be suspended over the night, and resumed at 7.40 a.m. local time, also involving two helicopters and rescue dog units, the Mountain Rescue Service said on Twitter.

One of the bodies found on Saturday was located some 40 meters away from the wreckage of the helicopter involved in the crash, a spokesperson for the Civil Protection also told Xinhua.

The two aircraft involved in the collision were a San Jodel D.140E plane and a helicopter AS350, according to Italy's National Flight Safety Agency (ANSV).

The plane had taken off from the French aerodrome of Megeve on the other side of the border, while the helicopter belonged to a private company based in Valle d'Aosta, and providing heli-skiing services and panoramic flights, according to their website.

The 53-year-old Italian pilot of the helicopter was among the dead, along with a German Alpine guide of 49 living in the Italian region, Ansa news agency reported.

The identity of the other victims was still unknown.

The National Flight Safety Agency opened an inquiry into the causes, and sent an inspection team to the site on Saturday.

The criminal probe was carried out by prosecutors in Aosta, which were investigating into involuntary manslaughter and culpable disaster.

Among other circumstances, investigators would verify whether the small plane had signaled its passage over Italian sky to the French control tower in Megeve, since no flight plan would have been submitted to flight authorities in Aosta, local media reported.

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