A contestant has died on the 16th Season of Koh-Lanta, the French version of Survivor.
The French publication, Le Monde reported that the reality competition was filming on location in Cambodia March 21st, when 25-year-old contestant Gérald Babin suffered a heart attack. Although he was rushed to a hospital, he was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest.
France’s Adventure Line Productions, which produces the show, released a statement saying that Babin's heart attack occurred during the first challenge of the season, on the first day of filming. "All their thoughts are with his parents, his sister, his girlfriend and his family," they said.
According to the French publication, Le Pointe (translated via Google), Babin actually suffered a series of heart attacks.
Le Pointe reported that the contestant had experienced violent cramps in the first moments of the challenge. By the time a doctor arrived, Babin was apparently in cardiac arrest, but was revived.
His heart allegedly stopped again, while Babin was being air-lifted by helicopter to a Cambodian hospital. Again, the medical team was able to restart his heart.
At the hospital, Babin then suffered a final heart attack from which he could not be resuscitated. He was then declared dead.
Babin was apparently physically fit and had passed the medical examination required for participation in the competition.
Following Babin's death, production of Koh-Lanta Season 16 was suspended and the other contestants were returned to Paris.
Koh-Lanta has been broadcast in France since 2001 and, according to Le Pointe, is watched by about 7 million viewers. The program is named after an island in Thialand and is French for "Island of millions of eyes."
While this kind of tragedy is reportedly unprecedented in France, other foreign editions of Survivor have suffered their own deaths.
In 2009, on the Bulgarian version, a 53-year-old contestant named Noncho Vodenicharov had a heart attack and drowned in the Philippines. Three months later, Saad Khan, 32, a contestant on the Pakistani version, also drowned, this time in Thailand.
Still, deaths during the filming of reality competitions are rare, although a growing number of contestants and reality TV personalities have committed suicide--but often not until years later.
No word yet as to when or even if the 16th season of Koh-Lanta will return to production.