The CEO of French giant oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, died in a plane accident around midnight on Tuesday in Moscow when his plane crashed into a snowplow driver who was drunk, Russian investigators said. De Margerie was 63.
The executive was in Russia attending a government meeting on foreign investment and headed back to Paris. Total is a top foreign investor in Russia, where it is part of a joint venture with Russian company Lukoil over the exploration of shale potential in Siberia.
The Falcon 50 plane crashed into a snow removal machine during takeoff at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.
Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia’s investigative Committee, said the driver was operating the snowplow under the influence of alcohol. The driver was was seriously hurt, the Financial Times reports.
The crash damaged the plane, so the pilot decided to turn around and land, Russia Today reported earlier. With an engine on fire, the plane crashed on the runway in flames, killing everybody on board, including de Margerie and three French crew members.
In a statement, Total said, “The thoughts of the management and employees of the Group go out to Christophe de Margerie’s wife, children and loved ones as well as to the families of the three other victims.
De Margerie had been CEO of Total since 2007, and he was known by the nickname “Big Mustache” because of his curved mustache, Bloomberg reported. He headed up exploration and production before he was CEO.
Total is the third-largest oil company in Europe.
Messages of condolences have been sent from French president Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called de Margerie “a true friend of Russia.”
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