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Petr Kellner, Czech Republic’s richest man, dies in helicopter crash in Alaska

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Prague, Czech Republic – Early media reports suggest Petr Kellner, the Czech billionaire, head of the powerful PPF Group and the Czech Republic’s richest man, died in a helicopter crash in Alaska this week-end.

Citing representatives from the lodge that chartered the helicopter for the excursion, the New York Times and Associated Press both report that Kellner was among the five people killed during a heli-skiing excursion on Saturday, when their chopper crashed near a glacier in Alaska.

A number of local media outlets have also confirmed the reports.

Another Czech native Benjamin Larochaix is among the victims, along with two of the lodge’s guides, Sean McMannany and Gregory Harms, and the pilot, Zach Russel. There appears to have been one survivor, in serious but stable condition according to reports.

The Airbus Eurocopter AS50 crashed about 80 kilometres east of Anchorage around 6.35 pm on Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The circumstances of the accident and reason for the crash are still unknown.

Representatives from the lodge, located in Judd Lake, Alaska, have said that the Czech businessman was a frequent guest of the resort.

On Twitter, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis described the accident as an “incredible tragedy” and expressed his sincere condolences to Petr Kellner’s family.

Petr Kellner, 56, was the head of PPF Group, a giant conglomerate he founded during the privatization era of the 1990s. With a net worth of $17.5 billion, he was the richest man in the Czech Republic, according to US magazine Forbes.

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