French defence officials among five dead after light aircraft crash at Malta airport

The airport has reopened with an 'operational slowdown' following this morning's incident

French defence officials among five dead after light aircraft crash at Malta airport

Officers work in the area where a light plane crashed after takeoff from Malta airport, in Valletta. Image: Rene Rossignaud AP/Press Association Images

Three French defence officials and two private contractors have been identified as the victims of a plane crash in Malta.

Witnesses say the light aircraft came down shortly after taking off around 7.20am this morning local time.

A witness told the Times of Malta the plane suddenly tipped onto its right side shortly after take-off "and went straight down into the ground".

Some of the burning wreckage landed on the airport perimeter road.

Firefighters were on the scene spraying the area with foam.

The plane was heading for Misrata in Libya, officials said.

Flights to and from Malta International Airport were halted after the country's worst peacetime aircraft accident. The airport has since reopened on an "operational slowdown".

An investigation into what happened is being carried out.

In a statement, airport authorities said "our thoughts remain with the families of the people involved in the accident today."

Several media outlets had initially reported that EU border officials were on board the plane.

However, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said no EU officials were involved in the crash.