, MOSCOW, Russia, Oct 21 – The CEO of French oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, died in a plane crash at a Moscow airport late Monday when the private jet he was using struck a snowplough on takeoff.
Russian investigators said Tuesday the driver of the snow-clearing machine was drunk and that his actions, along with “an error by air traffic controllers”, appeared to be to blame for the crash.
Total, Europe’s third largest oil company, confirmed the death of its 63-year-old boss and said its board would call an emergency meeting.
“Total confirms with deep regret and great sadness that chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie died just after 10pm (Paris time) (2000 GMT) on October 20 in a private plane crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow, following a collision with a snow removal machine,” the company said in a statement.
“Four people were found dead at the scene of the accident, including three crew members and Christophe de Margerie.”
French President Francois Hollande issued a statement saying he learned of De Margerie’s death with “shock and sadness”.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France had lost “a great captain of industry and a patriot”. He called de Margerie “a friend” and expressed “deep sadness” at his death.
Just hours before the crash, De Margerie had met Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at his country residence outside Moscow to discuss foreign investment in Russia, the Vedomosti business daily reported.