A pilot and a passenger dressed as Father Christmas heading for a children’s party were killed Sunday when their plane crashed in central France, officials said.
The men, aged 68 and 79, were taking part in a flight for their local aviation club. The small plane crashed less than two kilometres (1.2 miles) from Vichy-Charmeil airport, emergency services said.
Children aged between five and 13 who had been waiting for the plane’s arrival at the Vichy plane club were left in “shock”, according to a member, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity.
Emergency services also dealt with the traumatised children, officials said.
“The two men, one of whom was dressed as Santa Claus, were due to return to the airport,” Pascale Trimbach, prefect of the Allier department, told AFP.
She added that the pair had taken off from a festive event where the children and members of the flying club had been waiting for their return.
The circumstances of the crash, which happened as the plane was approaching the runway, “have yet to be determined,” the prefecture said in a statement.
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