Plane on French surveillance mission crashes in Malta, five dead

Baku, October 24, AZERTAC

A small aircraft conducting a surveillance mission over the Mediterranean for France's defense ministry crashed on take-off in Malta on Monday, killing all five people on board, according to Reuters.

The ministry declined to say what the purpose of the surveillance operation was. Airport officials said the plane had been heading for Misrata in Libya, where some Western powers have sent small teams of special forces to support the new U.N.-backed unity government in its fight against Islamist militants.

The twin-prop Fairchild Metroliner went down near the runway of the southern Mediterranean island nation's main airport in the morning, sending smoke billowing into the sky. Malta International Airport was closed for several hours.

On board were three French defense ministry officials and two pilots, who were also French. France's defense ministry and Luxembourg-based CAE Aviation, which operated the plane, said the five died. CAE said it was an accident but gave no details.

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