A helicopter and a small plane collided in the air and crashed near a ski slope in Austria, killing eight people, police said.

Five Swiss nationals, a German citizen and a French citizen died in the late-morning collision that occurred near Zell am See, in Salzburg province, police said. Seven victims were in the helicopter, which belonged to a Swiss company, police said.

The pilot of the plane, an Austrian citizen, also died in the accident, police said. Eyewitnesses interviewed by Austrian television said the small plane exploded near the ski slope.

It was unclear where the helicopter was headed, police said. Earlier, police said the helicopter was on its way to Germany.

Wreckage was scattered in a wooded area, according to Austrian broadcaster ORF.

The Austria Press Agency reported that, in the early afternoon, about 200 people were involved in the rescue effort.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the accident.