Officials have confirmed that 5 people died in the Malta Airplane Crash on Monday morning at 7:20am local time. The aircraft travelling to Libya’s coastal town of Misrata crashed shortly after takeoff from Luqa- Malta’s largest Airport. The airplane burst into flames upon impact.
The aircraft registration SA227-AT was a Fairchild Metroliner twin engine turboprop. It was specially configured for surveillance missions. The Metroliner was operated by the Luxemburg-based CAE Aviation on behalf of the French government for missions in Africa.
Maltese officials said that the aircraft was carrying French Customs Officials. The officials were tracking human trafficking across the Mediterranean. The area has become a notorious transition point for people smuggling. Traffickers have been taking advantage of the refugee crisis to entrap migrants.
A dashboard cam video taken from a car shows the aircraft tipping steeply to the right, and rolling to an upside-down position right before it crashed. Footage taken from another aircraft shows a big plume of black smoke and the wreckage burning in the field.
Eye witnesses concur with the videos. One witness who talked to the Times of Malta said “The aircraft tipped to its right side it then went straight down to the ground”. Actor Edward Degaetano who was on another flight waiting for takeoff observed the crash explosion.
Degaetano said “We were about to take off, moments before we did from our windows we could see a massive explosion. At first we had no idea what caused it,” he then said. “We quickly realized an aircraft had crash landed. That is when everyone got a bit anxious.” He added “There was a second explosion and I thought ‘oh my god this is not just a fire’. We are all a bit stunned.”
Airport officials and air crash investigators say it’s too early to speculate on the cause of the crash. It is unclear at this point as to what may have caused the crash. Several factors may have caused it ranging from a mechanical fault, pilot error, or terrorist involvement.