French oil company, Total's CEO Christophe de Margerie dies in air crash

The CEO of French oil company Total, Christophe de Margerie, died after a private jet crashed at a Moscow airport yesterday, according to  Russian media which cited aviation and law enforcement sources.

Christophe de Margerie"There was one passenger registered on the plane, French citizen Christophe de Margerie. The three crew members were also French citizens. They all died," the TASS news agency cited an aviation source as saying.

TASS reported that the plane "according to a preliminary version, crashed into a snow plough".

According to the Interfax news agency, which cited a police source, one of the dead was a top executive at Total, de Margerie, 63.

The emergencies ministry said in a statement that a Falcon-50 plane crashed at Vnukovo airport at 11:58 pm yesterday local time, apparently on takeoff. It added, "there are casualties."

Meanwhile, Russian investigators had confirmed that the driver of the snowplow, which the private jet of the head of French oil giant Total crashed into causing the death of three crew members and the oil company chief, was drunk, RIA Novosti reported.

Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said, it had currently been confirmed that the driver of the snowplow was under the influence of alcohol.

Also, a decision might be made to suspend a number of the airport's personnel during criminal investigations.

Four theories as to the cause of the accident are under investigation.

According to Markin, some of the main theories under investigation at this time were a mistake by air traffic control and the actions of the snowplow driver. He added, bad weather conditions and the possibility of a mistake by the pilot would also be considered.

The aircraft was flying from Moscow to Paris.

French prime minister Manuel Valls after learning of the tragedy, said in a statement that the country had lost "a great industry captain" who turned Total into a world giant. According to former finance minister Alexei Kudrin, de Margerie "did a lot to attract investments to Russia."

The 1951-born de Margerie joined Total in 1974 after graduating from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in Paris.

After working in several positions in the finance department and the exploration & production division, in May 2006, he was appointed to the company's board of directors.

He went on to become chief executive of Total on 14 February, 2007 and since May 2010 had served as chairman of the company.