Snowplough driver in Total CEO's Russia plane crash was drunk: investigators
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
In this photo taken on February 10, 2012 French energy giant Total CEO Christophe de Margerie talks during a press conference to present the group 2011 full year results in Paris.The driver of a snowplough involved in a deadly accident at a Moscow airport that killed Total CEO Christophe de Margerie was drunk, Russian investigators said Oct. 21.
"It has been established that the driver of the snowplough was in a drunken state," the investigating unit said in a statement. It added that its preliminary theory was that "an error by air traffic controllers and the actions of the snowplough driver" were to blame for the deadly accident. Possible mistakes by the pilots were also being looked at.
Margerie died in the plane crash at a Moscow airport after his private jet struck a snow plough on takeoff.
"The Total Group confirms with great and profound sadness that its CEO Christophe de Margerie died last night shortly after 10pm (Paris time) in an air crash at Vnukovo airport in Moscow following a collision with a snow removing machine," Total said in a statement.
Just hours earlier De Margerie had met Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at his country residence outside Moscow to discuss foreign investment in Russia, Vedomosti business daily reported.
The Vnukovo airport said in a statement that the Falcon Dassault business aviation jet crashed as it prepared to take off for Paris with one passenger and three crew on board.
"During run-up at 11:57 pm, there was a collision with the airport's snow plough. As a result of the crash, the passenger and all the crew members died," the airport's statement said.
The airport said that visibility was at 350 metres at the time of the accident. Moscow saw its first snowfall of the winter on Monday.
The airport said its rescue services were sent to the scene and "immediately started extinguishing a fire that had broken out".
TASS news agency also said four people had died.
"There was one passenger registered on the plane, French citizen Christophe de Margerie. The three crew members were also French citizens. They all died," the TASS news agency cited an aviation source as saying.
A spokeswoman for transport investigators, Tatyana Morozova, told Interfax that three men and a 39-year-old woman died .