Our hearts are heavy as we grieve alongside the family and friends of Corporal Benoit Chevalier. Chevalier was a control operator from 3 Wing, Bagotville, Quebec.
Our prayers are with you.
Nine members of a multinational peacekeeping force, eight of them French, were killed Sunday when their plane crashed while attempting an emergency landing in northern Egypt.
"Nine people on board the plane died in the crash. This included eight French crew members and one Canadian," an Egyptian security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) and French military sources said they had received reports that a French transport aircraft belonging to the peacekeeping force had crashed but did not immediately confirm any casualties.
According to Egyptian security sources on the crash site, the light aircraft suffered a technical failure and tried to perform an emergency landing on a road near the town of Nakhl, a remote area in the central Sinai mountains.
One of the plane's wings smashed into a truck carrying large containers, sending the aircraft crashing into a hill, said the sources, quoting the truck's driver, who survived the accident.
"Yes, unfortunately we have had reports of a plane crash. It was a French aircraft carrying eight French crew members. There was one other officer on board whose identity we are still trying to get," the MFO director general's representative, Normand St. Pierre, told AFP.
"It was a training mission and we lost touch with the plane shortly after takeoff," he said.
The French embassy in Cairo said it was still checking the reports and did not immediately confirm any casualties.
The plane was heading south from the northern Sinai airport of Al-Gurah, where the MFO has one of its two bases in the peninsula.
"The two pilots radioed in to report a technical failure and warn that they would attempt an emergency landing, after which we lost contact with them," a source at Al-Gurah airport said.
The Canadian embassy could not immediately confirm the death of one of its nationals.
Witnesses in the area told AFP and Egyptian public television that the plane smashed into a truck as it was attempting its emergency landing before crashing into the side of a mountain.
"The aircraft is a twin engine transport plane which carries out liaison missions and constitutes France's contribution to the force," a French military source in Cairo said.
The MFO is an independent peacekeeping force not related to the United Nations, created as a result of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and funded mainly by the two neighbours and the United States.
The approximately 2,000-strong military force was set up in 1982 and includes troops from 11 different countries, including a large US contingent. It is based in two camps in the Sinai peninsula.
According to the MFO's website, the aircraft is a DHC-6 Twin Otter which provides transportation between the force's two camps.
Statement by the Minister of National Defence
on the Death of Corporal Benoit Chevalier
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(May 6, 2007) - The Honourable Gordon O'Connor, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement today on the death of Corporal Benoit Chevalier:"We deeply mourn today's loss of a dedicated Canadian Forces member who died in an aircraft accident in the Sinai in Egypt. Corporal Benoit Chevalier, an Aerospace Control Operator from 3 Wing Bagotville (Quebec), was part of a team of six air traffic controllers deployed to provide flight services for the Multinational Forces and Observers in the Sinai.A highly regarded and important member of the Canadian Forces personnel assigned to this operation, Corporal Chevalier was fulfilling a key role in the Canadian contingent. His comrades will forever remember him as an extremely thoughtful and professional airman.My heartfelt sympathies and thoughts are with the family and friends of Corporal Chevalier, who should be extremely proud of this member's honourable service to his country. I would also like to extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the other personnel who died in this accident.We will mourn the memory of this brave Canadian, who echoes our values as a nation helping to spread security and stability across the globe. I am deeply honoured by the commitment and professionalism that Corporal Chevalier demonstrated."
Message from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, on the death of Corporal Benoit Chevalier
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(May 6, 2007) - "My husband Jean-Daniel Lafond and I were deeply saddened by the news of the terrible accident that occurred in Sinai, claiming the life of Corporal Benoit Chevalier, Control Operator from 3 Wing, Bagotville, Quebec.
Corporal Chevalier belonged to the Canadian Contingent of the Multinational Forces and Observers in El Gorah, of which Canada is among the 11 participating states. Members of the Canadian Forces involved in this operation are committed to carrying out peace efforts in this region. We applaud their remarkable work.I join Canadians in offering our most sincere condolences to the family, loved ones and colleagues of Corporal Chevalier.Our thoughts are with our fellow Frenchwomen and men who are also mourning the loss of numerous soldiers as a result of this tragic accident."