The helicopters were each carrying four passengers and a pilot near the town of Villa Castelli in the La Rioja province of Argentina, near the Chilean coast. A mid-air collision left no survivors.
Among the dead were swimmer Camille Muffat, an Olympic medallist, boxer Alexis Vastine, and popular sailor Florence Arthaud as well as ALP production staffers.
Laurent Sbasnik, Lucie Mei-Dalby, Volodia Guinard, Brice Guilbert and Edouard Gilles from Zodiak-owned prodco ALP also died in the crash, according to Le Parisien newspaper.
“The sudden death of our fellow French nationals is a cause of immense sadness,” said French President Francois Hollande.
ALP was producing the show for French commercial broadcaster TF1. The format sees two teams of contestants left in remote and inhospitable locations and tasked with being the first to find civilisation.
Filming has been suspended and the rest of the crew and stars are returning to France.
“All the ALP teams have collapsed with and join in the deep pain of the families and those close to the victims,” the producer said in a statement. “We are in contact with the production teams on site, and with the French and Argentine authorities. We will communicate more information as soon as possible.”
“It is with deep regret that we learned of the accident that took place during filming of the programme Dropped,” said TF1 in a statement.
“[CEO] Nonce Paolini and all the teams at TF1 express their deepest sympathy for the pain suffered by the victims’ families and loved ones during this difficult time.”
It is not the first time an ALP-produced reality format for TF1 has been struck by tragedy. Two years ago, a contestant died filming Koh-Lanta, the French version of Survivor, and the show’s doctor took his life a week later. The show was subsequently cancelled.
Dropped first broadcast in Sweden on TV4 (pictured), where Mastiff produces it. Zodiak sales arm Zodiak Rights has made the show a priority format, and closed deals for local remakes in France and Norway on TV2 last year after its market launch.