A small plane crashed in a fireball at Malta International Airport soon after take-off, killing all five people on board

It is understood the plane, which was on its way to Misrata, Libya, tilted towards the right and crashed into the ground soon after lifting off at 7:20am local time – which is when it burst into flames. Part of the burning wreckage ended up on a road outside the perimeter of the airport.

Actor Edward De Gaetano was on his way home to London on a different plane when he witnessed the crash.

“We were about to take off; moments before we did from our windows we could see a massive explosion – at first we had no idea what caused it,” said De Gaetano. “We quickly realised an aircraft carrier had crash-landed. Then there was a second explosion and I thought ‘Oh my God, this is not just a fire’. We are all a bit stunned. I just hope they find out what caused the crash and if there are any survivors they are OK.”

Fire engine fights the blaze
Firefighters fought the blaze, which engulfed a nearby tree on the airport’s permieter (Ed De Gaetano/@eddydeg/Twitter/PA Wire)

Malta International Airport warned it would “take some time” for its flight schedule to return to normal, due to the volume of flights delayed and diverted by the incident. It said there is an investigation under way into how the crash happened and that thoughts are with the families of those involved.