Published on : Monday, October 24, 2016
The Fairchild Metroliner, which was on a mission to track illicit human and drug trafficking routes, crashed at 7:20 a.m. (1:20 a.m. ET) Monday, officials reported.
Passengers on a nearby flight waiting to depart watched in horror as flames shot out and a dark plume of smoke billowed from the wreckage, witness Ben Cundall said.
“Everyone was screaming,” he said. “The flames were the length of an aircraft, so it was clear to everyone what had happened straight away.”
“Official information, footage and eyewitnesses, including three members of the Armed Forces of Malta at the nearby Safi Barracks, and two commercial airline pilots, clearly indicate that there was no explosion prior to impact,” the Maltese government said in a statement. “Several inquiries, as established by international rules and the laws of Malta, are currently underway to establish all facts.”
All five people aboard the plane were French nationals, the statement said.
Maltese officials said in statement that the flight was part of a French customs operation that had been going on for the past five months. It had been scheduled as a local flight and was due to return within hours “without landing in third countries,” the statement added.
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