World

France expected to probe plane crash that killed Canadian

The Canadian military expects France will investigate the cause of a plane crash in a remote area of Egypt's Sinai Desert that killed a Canadian peacekeeper and eight others from France.

The Canadian military expects France will investigate the cause of a plane crash in a remote area of Egypt's Sinai Desert that killed a Canadian peacekeeper and eight others from France.

Cpl. Benoît Chevalier, a 25-year-old air-traffic controller from Three Wing Bagotville in Quebec, was killed in Sunday's crash.

Chevalier was one of 28 Canadians participating in a multi-national peacekeeping mission that keeps an eye on activities in the Sinai region between Egypt and Israel.

"The cause of the crash is unknown," Col. Pierre Ruel, Three Wing Bagotville commanding officer, told a news conference Sunday.

"We expect France to send a team of investigators to determine the circumstances of the crash."

Chevalier had been part of the mission for a month and was aboard the Canadian-made de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter plane to learn its operations.

Plane hit truck

Normand St. Pierre, a spokesman for the Multinational Forces and Observers, said the aircraft tried to land on a mountain highway but crashed nearby after clipping a truck. The truck driver escaped unharmed, he said.

Eight members of the 15-member French peacekeeping contingent were on the plane as well as Chevalier. The mission's sole fixed-wing aircraft was destroyed, said St. Pierre.

A "higher than normal" load of passengers and crew was aboard the aircraft at the time of the crash during the training mission, he said.

St. Pierre said the French government will have to decide whether it wants to rebuild the unit and send in a new plane.

"It's a great loss. Everyone is shocked. We can do a lot with helicopters in the meantime, but we can't reconstitute the unit," he said.

The multinational force was set up after the 1979 Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt and operates independently of the United Nations. Canada is among the countries that contribute soldiers to the 2,000-member force.

With files from the Canadian Press and the Associated Press