One day after a plane came crashing down shortly after take-off at Malta International Airport, the charred remains of a puzzling tragedy remain all-too-evident. 

The burnt fuselage of the Fairchild Metroliner Mark III aircraft lies in the middle of a road on the periphery of Kirkop, just past the airport perimeter fence it smashed past as it hit the ground and exploded in a burning fireball

One of the plane's wheels survived the impact relatively unscathed, but apart from that detail, very little of the blackened debris had much in common with the 18-metre long plane it once was part of.  

Watch: Plane becomes a ball of flames upon impact

Police and Armed Forces of Malta officials are guarding the site and ensuring no cars pass through, while a few metres away workers in high-visibility vests work to rebuild the perimeter fence that was damaged by the aircraft crash. 

Five men, all French, died in yesterday's crash. Three of those men worked for France's spy agency, the DGSE, with the other two employed by CAE Aviation, the plane's owner and a global contractor of surveillance services. 

It remains unclear what exactly the plane and its crew were doing in Malta in the first place, with the Maltese government insisting the plane was part of a "customs surveillance operation" intended to trace trafficking routes, despite French customs publicly stating no customs officials were on board and EU Foreign Affairs High Commissioner Federica Mogherini making it clear that the flight was "not related to any EU activities".