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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 16:02 GMT
Celebrity baker missing after air crash
Lionel Poilane
Poilane revived the fashion for sourdough bread
One of France's best-known bakers is missing after the helicopter he was piloting apparently crashed off the coast of western France.

A search is under way for Lionel Poilane and his wife, who are believed to have been the only people aboard the aircraft which came down into the sea off the town of Cancale in Brittany.

Authorities said they found a downed helicopter early on Friday afternoon with at least one body inside.

Officials indicated there was little hope the Poilanes would be found alive.

Lionel Poilane is credited with reviving the fading fortunes of sourdough bread, which became hugely popular in France and abroad.

Mr Poilane holds a pilot's licence and frequently flew his helicopter to the small off-shore island Ile des Rimains which he personally owned and where he lived in an old fort.

Thick fog

The accident seems to have taken place in thick fog late on Thursday as the aircraft was trying to land on the island.

The alarm was given by a local fisherman who heard the aircraft pass and then a loud noise.

Mr Poilane is thought to have been on his way to the island to spend the All Saints' Day bank holiday weekend there.

Mr Poilane, 57, succeeded his father, Pierre, as head of the bakery chain founded in 1932 in Paris under the family name.

He made his mark by reviving traditional ways of baking his trademark round loaves, by hand over wood fires.

He opened his first bakery in London two years ago, and exported bread to the British Waitrose supermarket chain, as well as more than 20 other countries.

See also:

13 Feb 98 | Bon Appetit
06 Jun 01 | Europe
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