Four dead as aircraft chartered by French army crashes in Ivory Coast

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Valan International Cargo Charter Antonov AN-26

An Antonov AN-26 chartered by the French army has crashed taking off from Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, resulting in four deaths.

The aircraft, which was built in 1975 and owned by Moldavian charter company, Valan International Cargo Charter, crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from Abidjan Felix Houphouet-Boigny International Airport on 14 October.

Abidjan Airport says the aircraft, which was carrying 10 passengers and crew, suffered damage to the right engine during the push at the end of the take-off procedure.

In a statement on its website, Valan confirmed its AN-26, registration ER-AVB had crashed with the loss four crewmembers, and two survivors.

They were deceased crewmembers were named as pilot-in-command, Litovca Evghenii; co-pilot Sikanov Alexandr; flight engineer Besedin Pavel; and ground engineer Melniciuc Dmitrii.

The two surviving crewmembers were named as flight engineer Tanasiiciuc Roman and ground engineer Erohin Valeriu.

Valan says: “The air company VALAN ICC expresses its deepest and most sincere condolences and sympathies to the families and friends of the crewmembers that have lost their lives and offers full support and assistance to the relatives.”

The company says it is working to repatriate the bodies of the deceased crewmembers to the Republic of Moldova, offering support to surviving crewmembers including arranging their return to Moldova, assisting concerned authorities in the accident investigation, and assisting insurance company Acord Grup in assessing the event in order to ensure payments are made in accordance with emergency procedures.

Media reports say the aircraft crashed during a storm with heavy rain and lightning.

Reports also say it was chartered by the French army as part of its anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane.