French military charter plane crashes


Four Moldovan citizens were killed and two others injured when a cargo plane chartered by the French military crashed into the sea near the airport in Abidjan, Ivorian and French officials said.

Four French citizens were also injured in the crash, which happened as the Antonov 26, en route from Ouagadougou, neared the airport, said Sinaly Silue, director general of Ivory Coast’s civil aviation authority.

A witness earlier told Reuters the plane crashed shortly after take-off.
“There were 10 people aboard including six crew members, three French soldiers and a French civilian working for the aviation company,” Silue said at a news conference. He said the plane was registered in Moldova but did not name the company.

The control tower in Abidjan lost contact with the plane during a heavy thunderstorm, Silue added.

Abidjan airport is located in a heavily populated area but it did not appear anyone on the ground was hurt.

The French military operates a logistics base next to the airport in support of its Barkhane operation, combating Islamist militants in West Africa’s Sahel region.
“This was a plane chartered by the French army in the framework of the Barkhane force to carry out logistic missions,” French army spokesman Colonel Patrick Steiger said.

Silue said he did not have information about what caused the crash, though he noted the weather was “very bad” along the approach to the airport.

An investigation was launched and Ivorian authorities are in contact with their French and Moldovan counterparts, he said. The four injured French citizens were being treated at the French military base adjacent to the airport.

France’s ambassador to Ivory Coast, along with French gendarmes and soldiers, arrived at the crash site, where hundreds of local residents gathered to look at the wreckage.

Some of them assisted firefighters and rescue divers who had to contend with rough seas as they freed the bodies of the dead from the plane, which broke into several large pieces.