Aust base-jumper dies in France

GRENOBLE (FRANCE) - A 35-year-old Australian man plunged to his death in southeastern France Sunday while attempting to parachute off a cliff in the extreme sport known as base-jumping.

Police said the man had thrown himself off the 2,600-metre (8,500-feet) peak of Brevent in the French Alps at around 9:00 am (0700 GMT).

Rescue workers said he likely died on impact. He was found "several hundred metres lower in a wooded area below the site," they said.

An investigation has been launched to determine the exact cause of the accident.

On August 6, two base-jumpers, one from Switzerland, the other from France, died in similar accidents in the Alps.

A base-jump is defined as a leap off a fixed high point -- the name being an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span (such as bridges) and Earth (natural settings).

Unlike skydiving which involves leaping from an aircraft, base jumpers take off with a parachute from a fixed point, usually a cliff or a bridge.

The sport carries high risks. A Norwegian study published in 2007 concluded that base-jumping is five to eight times more likely than skydiving to result in injury or death.

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