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Total’s head dies in plane accident at Moscow’s Vnukovo

October 21, 2014, 3:05 UTC+3
“One passenger was registered for the flight - a citizen of France, Christophe de Margerie. Three members of the crew - also citizens of France. They all died,” the source said
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CEO of French multinational oil company Total, Christophe de Margerie (archive)

CEO of French multinational oil company Total, Christophe de Margerie (archive)

© EPA/YOAN VALAT

MOSCOW, October 21. /TASS/. Total’s CEO Christophe de Margerie died in a plane accident at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport on Tuesday, a source told TASS.

“One passenger was registered for the flight - a citizen of France, Christophe de Margerie. Three members of the crew - also citizens of France. They all died,” the source said.

According to preliminary results of the investigation, a four-seat Falcon-300 airplane en route from Moscow to Paris collided at 7.57pm GMT during takeoff at Moscow airport Vnukovo on October 20 with a snow removing machine, caught fire and fell onto the runway. Three crewmembers and France’s oil giant Total CEO Christophe de Margerie died in the jet’s crash.

Detectives are probing an error of flight controllers and actions of the snow removal machine driver as main causes of the crash. Technical documents for the jet are being confiscated, fuel samples taken, Markin told TASS.

Reaction to the death of Total CEO Christophe de Margerie

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a telegram to his French counterpart Francois Hollande expressing condolences over the death of Total’s CEO and crew members

“I am shocked by the report of an air crash at the Moscow Vnukovo airport, which has led to the death of the chairman of the board of directors and the president of the Total oil concern, Christophe de Margerie, and the crew members,” Putin said in the telegram.

“I ask you to convey the most sincere condolences and regrets to the relatives and friends of Christophe de Margerie, a distinguished French businessman who stood at the origins of the major joint projects which have laid the basis for the fruitful cooperation between Russia and France in the energy sphere for many years,” the telegram reads.

“In Christophe de Margerie, we have lost a true friend of the country, we will leave fond memories of him,” the Russian leader said.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS Putin “was in a close working contact with de Margerie.” “The president highly appreciated the business qualities of de Margerie, his consistent commitment to the development of both bilateral Russian-French relations and mutually beneficial and multi-faceted cooperation as a whole,” he said.

Peskov said Moscow also values de Margerie’s contribution to the development of cultural dialogue and his support of various cultural projects.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also sent condolences to the family of Christophe de Margerie.

“Margerie was a friend and a partner of our country. He always openly expressed his position on all acute issues. We will miss him,” Medvedev said in a telegramme.

The Russian prime minister also expressed condolences to the plane crewmembers’ families.

The French president has earlier expressed his condolences over the tragedy. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France has lost a distinguished businessman, a great captain of industry and a patriot.

Russia's former finance minister Alexey Kudrin said on his page in Twitter Christophe de Margerie did a great deal in order to promote investments in the Russian economy. Kudrin also offered condolences over Margerie’s death in the crash.

"It is a grave tragedy,” he said.

Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko said on Tuesday he was shocked by the death Total CEO.

“I want to convey the most sincere condolences to his relatives, friends and colleagues,” Timchenko said.

“We all experienced big personal sympathy for Christophe, working jointly both in business and public structures,” Timchenko said.

“This is a loss not only for France, which has lost its great citizen, but this is also a big loss for Russia. Christophe deeply understood and valued Russia and had done enormous work to bring our countries closer to each other,” Timchenko said.

“Everyone who knew Christophe was always fascinated by his strong character. No matter how complex a situation could be, he always preserved calmness, was never guided by situational considerations and safeguarded his opinion,” the Russian billionaire said.

“I would like to say that we’ll continue all of Christophe de Margerie’s initiatives to the maximum possible extent and we’ll link everything we’ll manage to do in this respect with his name. Let his soul rest in peace,” Timchenko said.

The Russian stock indexes are falling on the Moscow Stock Exchange on Tuesday after news of the death of Total’s CEO.

Reaction of the company

Overnight when Christophe de Margerie was reported dead the Total head office in Paris district La Defense urgently convened a crisis committee. After several hours of talks the committee issued a communique confirming the death of the Total CEO. Total officials refrained from any comments.

De Margerie, 63, joined the French oil giant in 1974 after his graduation. The Total CEO, called Big Moustache by his fellow businessmen and politicians, is the father of three children.

De Margerie, who was on a business trip to Moscow, on Monday attended an annual meeting of Russia’s Foreign Investment Advisory Council.

Commenting on the jet’s crash at Moscow airport Vnukovo French oil industry Emmanuel Cugny noted that from the 1990's France has  had the rule that the top management of the corporation never flies by one airplane and they always take different flights if necessary. “This procedure is observed most strictly after an airplane carrying all chief executives of major food corporation Beghin-Say crashed in 1997, leaving the company almost without all top management and nearly making it go bankrupt,” Cugny said.

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