Famed French surgeon among five killed when plane crashes into Lisbon suburbs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 April, 2017, 10:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 April, 2017, 2:31pm

Five people died when a Swiss-registered light aircraft crashed into a supermarket warehouse in the suburbs of Lisbon on Monday, rescue services said.

The fatalities comprised the pilot and all three passengers - a Swiss and three French nationals - who were aboard the aircraft, plus a Portuguese truck driver who was at the warehouse at the time, they said in a statement. Three other people were slightly injured.

The warehouse, operated by the Lidl supermarket chain, is about a kilometre from an aerodrome at Tires, in the district of Cascais about 20km from central Lisbon.

Two of the French victims were Marseille surgeon Jean-Pierre Franceschi, 65, and his wife Nathalie, Marseille mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin said in a statement late Monday.

Gaudin expressed his condolences to their families and paid tribute to the “internationally recognised orthopaedic surgeon ... a leading authority in the sports world”.

A knee specialist, Franceschi had notably operated on legendary former France striker Jean-Pierre Papin, the 1991 Ballon d’Or winner, and former France and Arsenal star Robert Pires.

According to a statement issued by the aerodrome, the plane belonged to Symbios Orthopaedics, a company based near Lausanne, Switzerland that specialises in orthopaedic prosthetics.

The twin-engine Piper PA-31 plane had just taken off on a flight to the southern French city of Marseille when it crashed, hitting a truck parked at the warehouse.

About 90 firefighters mobilised to fight a blaze, which was quickly put out. A neighbouring house was also damaged.