Plane crashes after take-off in Malta, killing all five on board

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VALLETTA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - A light aircraft crashed after taking off from Malta's main airport early on Monday, killing all five people on board, officials there said, in the island nation's worst peacetime air accident.

Airport sources initially said the plane was believed to be carrying officials from European Union border agency Frontex. But the organization later said none of its staff was involved.

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A military source at Malta International Airport said all five victims were French, though the French foreign ministry said it could not yet confirm that.

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Television footage showed flames rising from wreckage near the runway, sending thick black smoke into the sky.

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In this image taken from a video smoke billows as a light plane crashed after takeoff from Malta airport, in Valletta, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. Officials say a light plane has crashed after takeoff from Malta International Airport, killing all five people on board. The twin-prop Metroliner tipped toward the right and crashed into the ground soon after lifting off at 7:20 a.m. Monday, bursting into flames, eyewitnesses said. (AP Photo/Ed De Gaetano)
In this image made from video, fire engines spray water as smoke billows from a light plane which crashed at Malta International Airport, in Valletta, Malta, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. The light plane crashed Monday after takeoff from the airport en route to Libya, killing all five crew members on board, airport authorities said. (AP Photo/Ed De Gaetano)
In this image taken from a video smoke billows as a light plane crashed after takeoff from Malta airport, in Valletta, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. Officials say a light plane has crashed after takeoff from Malta International Airport, killing all five people on board. The twin-prop Metroliner tipped toward the right and crashed into the ground soon after lifting off at 7:20 a.m. Monday, bursting into flames, eyewitnesses said. (AP Photo/Ed De Gaetano)
Investigators and rescue services at the scene of a plane crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA.
Investigators and rescue services at the scene of a plane crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA.
Investigators and rescue services at the scene of a plane crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA.
Investigators and rescue services at the scene of a plane crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA.
Investigators and rescue services at the scene of a plane crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA.
Rescue services at the scene of a light aircraft crash at the airport in Valletta, Malta, 24 October, 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit-Lupi
Forensics work on the site of a small plane crash at Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. Five French nationals died when a small plane crashed shortly after take off from Malta's international airport, the island's government said. The plane had been chartered by French customs and had been involved in the surveillance of people and drugs trafficking off Malta, the government said in a statement. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Forensics work on the site of a small plane crash at Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. Five French nationals died when a small plane crashed shortly after take off from Malta's international airport, the island's government said. The plane had been chartered by French customs and had been involved in the surveillance of people and drugs trafficking off Malta, the government said in a statement. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
The body of a victim of a small plane crash at Malta International Airport, is removed from the scene on October 24, 2016. Five French nationals died when a small plane crashed shortly after take off from Malta's international airport, the island's government said. The plane had been chartered by French customs and had been involved in the surveillance of people and drugs trafficking off Malta, the government said in a statement. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of Malta's Armed Forces check the runway after a small passenger aircraft crashed on takeoff at Malta's international airport on October 24, 2016, killing all five people onboard, officials said. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers, firemen and policemen are seen at the site of the wreckage of a small twin engined plane which crashed shortly after takeover from Malta International Airport, killing five people, on October 24, 2016. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers are seen at the site of the wreckage of a small twin engined plane which crashed shortly after takeover from Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers are seen at the site of the wreckage of a small twin engined plane which crashed shortly after takeover from Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers are seen at the site of the wreckage of a small twin engined plane which crashed shortly after takeover from Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers are seen at the site of the wreckage of a small twin engined plane which crashed shortly after takeover from Malta International Airport, on October 24, 2016. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Passengers arrive at Malta airport, in Valletta, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. A small plane heading toward Libya's coast to monitor migrant trafficking routes for the French government crashed soon after takeoff from Malta's airport Monday, killing all five French crew members, authorities said. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)
Planes are parked at Malta airport, in Valletta, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. A small plane heading toward Libya's coast to monitor migrant trafficking routes for the French government crashed soon after takeoff from Malta's airport Monday, killing all five French crew members, authorities said. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)
Officers work in the area where a light plane crashed after takeoff from Malta airport, in Valletta, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. A small plane heading toward Libya's coast to monitor migrant trafficking routes for the French government crashed soon after takeoff from Malta's airport Monday, killing all five French crew members, authorities said. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)
Monitors report departures delays as a light plane crashed after takeoff from Malta airport, in Valletta, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. A small plane heading toward Libya's coast to monitor migrant trafficking routes for the French government crashed soon after takeoff from Malta's airport Monday, killing all five French crew members, authorities said. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)
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Staff said investigations had begun and the aerodrome was closed until further notice. Several flights have been diverted to Sicily, many delayed and some canceled.

The twin-prop Fairchild Metroliner crashed at about 0520 GMT, the airport said.

"We can confirm that no European Union officials were on board. The plane also was not related to any of the European Union's activities," an EU spokesperson said.

Airport officials told Reuters the plane had been heading for Misrata in Libya.

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