(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
An aircraft on its way to Libya from Malta’s airport on Monday crashed killing five crew members, said authorities. The plane was on route to the Libyan coast to monitor migrants on route to Europe from Libya.
Officials said the five crew members killed in the crash were French citizens. Three of them were officials from the French defense ministry and the two others were private contractors, said the French defense ministry.
A video of the crash posted on Facebook showed the plane crashed into the ground moments after it took off at 5:20 GMT. The plane was expected back in Malta within a few hours, after conducting a surveillance mission, according to the Maltese government. The surveillance mission has been ongoing for around five months.
Soon after the crash, the Maltese airport was closed for four hours to clear debris from the airplane crash.
According to the Maltese government, the crew was conducting an operation tracking routes used by smugglers leaving Libya for Europe smuggling people or drugs.
The chaos and lack of instability that Libya has fallen into has enabled smugglers to take advantage of the situation and use Libya as a launching point for their illegal smuggling operations.
Previous reports from authorities stated that the French operation was heading towards Misrata, Libya.