ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — A cargo plane chartered by the French military crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on its approach to the international airport in Abidjan, killing four crew members from Moldova and injuring six others from Moldova and France, officials said Saturday.
Ten people were aboard the plane arriving from the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso, Lt. Issa Sakho, commander of the military fire brigade, said on national television.
The French Defense Ministry said the four French nationals included a civilian and three military personnel. It said the plane was chartered for operations in Western Africa. The French have forces in several Sahel countries, including Burkina Faso, to help combat extremists.
Moldova’s foreign ministry said in a statement it was trying to determine whether the victims were Moldovan citizens.
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The cause of the crash was not yet known. Earlier reports indicated the plane had taken off from Abidjan.
Ange Koutaye Ismael, a 19-year-old student, told The Associated Press he saw the four bodies carried out of the airplane, which had been broken in two in the shallow waters.
Ismael said he he noticed a plane flying low over his neighborhood Saturday morning. When he heard a plane had crashed on the beach, he ran down to film it.
Stormy weather likely played a role, he said.
“There was winds yesterday and I saw how planes seemed to have difficulties in getting up,” he said.
Chrisian Kouame, who also lives near the airport, said he was awakened before 7 a.m. by a loud noise.
“We thought at the beginning it was the waves of the sea in the rain, but the cries of our neighbors caught our attention,” he said. “When we went out we saw the aircraft broken by the beach. Airport authorities were alerted and rescue workers were immediately sent to help recover those wounded.”
Hundreds of onlookers gathered at the beach looking at the debris on the shoreline. Rescue workers carried away corpses.
Air traffic at the airport in the West African nation continued after the crash, according to the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.
In February 2000, a Kenya Airways Airbus 310 carrying 179 people destined for Lagos, Nigeria crashed into the ocean after takeoff from Abidjan, leaving only 10 survivors.
Associated Press writers Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark; Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal; Thomas Adamson in Paris and Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed.