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French Surveillance Plane Heading for Libya Crashes in Malta
25/10/2016 15:25:00
The plane in flames.

A plane crashed Monday morning in Malta killing all five French people on Tuesday morning at 7:20 a.m. shortly after take-off in Luqa airport.

Maltese officials said French customs officials were among victims on the flight, which was heading for the city of Misrata in Libya.

The Fairchild Metroliner Mark III plane, a twin-prop US-built and registered plane was heading for Libya, sources said. It was leased to the Luxembourg arm of Canadian firm CAE Aviation, which describes itself on its website as a "European leader in intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance services."

A Maltese government statement said the flight was part of a French customs surveillance operation "which had been taking place for the past five months."

The operation was tasked with tracing illicit trafficking routes "of all sorts, including human and drug trafficking," the statement read.

"The ... flight was registered with Malta Air Traffic Services as a local flight and was to return to Malta within hours without landing in third countries," it added.

According to French media, three of the victims were French Defence Ministry officials, with the other two being private contractors.

Initial reports had indicated the plane had been leased by Frontex, the EU's border management agency, but the agency subsequently denied this, writing in a tweet that "the plane that crashed in Malta was not deployed by Frontex."

EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini tweeted that no EU officials were on board the plane and the flight was not related to EU activities. When contacted, the French Embassy in Valletta said it had no comment to make for the time being.(thetimesofmalta)


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