France's RFI public radio has apologised for mistakenly publishing obituaries for a number of celebrities still very much alive, including Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Brazilian football legend Pele.

Citing a "technical problem" that caused the death notices to be released on its website today, the broadcaster said: "We offer our apologies to the people concerned and to you who follow and trust us.

"We are mobilising to rectify this major bug," said the Twitter account of RFI, which saw itself the target of much online derision for the error.

Others RFI declared dead included Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former US President Jimmy Carter, Cuban leader Raul Castro, actors Clint Eastwood, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot.

French business mogul Bernard Tapie, 77, whose obituary had been prematurely published by other news outlets at least twice before, was also on the RFI list.