Italian rescuers located the bodies of seven people Saturday, including four Turkish and two Lebanese businessmen, in the wreckage of a helicopter that disappeared in a heavily forested, mountainous area in north-central Italy during a storm two days ago, with no survivors.
Four Turkish citizens were on board the helicopter which went missing on Thursday, the Turkish foreign ministry said, while Lebanese President Michel Aoun said he mourned the death of two nationals on board.
The pilot was Italian, originally from Venice, according to the ANSA news agency, which reported that the others had been on a business trip.
The helicopter took off on Thursday from Lucca in Tuscany and was heading towards the northern city of Treviso when it disappeared from radar screens after hitting bad weather above a hilly, wooded area.
Seven people were aboard the helicopter, including four Turkish businessmen working for the firm Eczacıbaşı Consumer Products who had been attending paper technology fair, the company said in a statement.
"After the discovery on Mount Cusna of the remains of the aircraft that disappeared on June 9, the unfortunately lifeless bodies of the seven people on board were found in the wreckage," Italy's fire service announced.
The alpine rescue service said: "No survivors have been found."
The Italian air force, fire and police services were all involved in the search for the aircraft which disappeared after leaving the city of Lucca on Thursday.
The helicopter went missing in a sparsely populated mountainous area, and bad weather hampered the first attempts to find it.
In a video posted on Twitter, an unnamed spokesman for the Italian air force said that after the wreckage was spotted from the air, rescue teams had to go in on foot.
"We went to the place and found everything burned," he said.
A spokesman for the alpine rescue service had warned on Friday that the search would not be easy. "If a helicopter falls amongst trees, in this season the branches close over it and it is complicated to see it from the sky," he told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The two Lebanese victims Chadi Kreidy and Tarek Tayah were both business executives working for a well-known Lebanese industrial company.
Kreidy, 47, was a father of four and an active member of the president's political party, the Free Patriotic Movement.
"They were working to strengthen Lebanese industry and provide it with all that is new and advanced," Aoun said on Saturday.
"I offer my heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones."
Tayah, 60, was a father of three. The family had already been hit by tragedy in 2020 when his jewellery designer wife was killed in the massive explosion which devastated Beirut port and adjacent areas of the capital.
Their daughter gifted French President Emmanuel Macron a Lebanon-shaped pin made by her late mother when he visited Beirut in the aftermath of the explosion.