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Air Algerie Flight AH5017: Plane Crashes Near Mali With 116 Onboard (LIVE UPDATES)

24/07/2014 10:40 | Updated 25 July 2014

A search is is underway after an Air Algerie plane carrying 116 crew and passengers crashed after it was forced to divert due to a sandstorm, an Algerian aviation official has confirmed.

Flight AH5017 was flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers across the Sahara when Algerian aviation authorities lost contact with the aircraft, about 50 minutes after take-off, the APS state news agency reported on Thursday.

The passenger manifest says 50 passengers -almost half of those onboard- were French, four were from Burkina Faso, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two from Luxembourg and one from Mali.

There was also one Nigerian, one from Cameroon, one Belgian, one Ukrainian, one Romanian and one Swiss passenger, Air Algerie said. The six crew members are Spanish, according to the Spanish pilots' union.

dah5017

A MD83 Plane

"I can confirm that it has crashed," an Algerian official told Reuters, declining to be identified or give any details about what had happened to the aircraft on its way north.

The plane had been missing for hours before the news was made public, and officials did not make it immediately clear why there had been such a delay in reporting the loss of the aircraft.

There have been mixed reports about the location of the plane, with the head of Mali's National Civil Aviation Agency saying that a search was currently under way for the missing flight.

"We do not know if the plane is Malian territory," Issa Saly Maiga told Reuters. "Aviation authorities are mobilised in all the countries concerned - Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria and even Spain."

The Air Algerie flight disappeared over northern Mali, France's transport minister said. The passenger airliner was last seen at 0155 GMT, when it was flying over Gao, the airline added. It should have landed at 0510.

The city is not on the flight route for the plane but officials said it had been diverted due to poor visibility. The plane was asked to change route at 01.38 local time because of a powerful sandstorm, the Burkina Faso transport minister said.

"The plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route," an Air Algerie source told AFP. "Contact was lost after the change of course."

Mali is at the end of its dry season, during which the "harmattan", a dry, hot wind that blows from the east out of the Sahara, "sweeps the soil into dusty whirlwinds and is accompanied by daytime temperatures of about 40 to 45 °C", according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

The weather map below shows the strength of the storm at the time that the plane disappeared. The green patches show that the clouds would have been up to 49,500ft - a plane's cruising altitude is around 35,000ft.

Two French fighter jets based in West Africa have been deployed to try and locate the missing plane, a French army spokesman has said.

"Two Mirage 2000 jets based in Africa were dispatched to try to locate the Air Algerie plane that disappeared on Thursday," French army spokesman Gilles Jaron said.

"They will search an area from its last known destination along its probable route."

The plane was chartered from Spanish airline Swiftair who said in a statement that the aircraft was an MD83 and first announced that they were unable to establish contact with the plane. Ougadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali where unrest continues in the north. Flight AH5017 flew the Ouagadougou-Algiers route four times a week, AFP reported.

The country is currently considered a "high risk" flight zone by US airlines, according to the Wall Street Journal graphic.

The downing of the Air Algerie plane comes a week to the day after the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in which 298 people died.

air algerie

The plane's route from Ouagadougou to Algiers

25/07/2014 17:31 BST

VIDEO: Crash Site

The Associated Press released footage of the crash site of an Air Algerie plane.

25/07/2014 17:26 BST

French Officials Rule Out Ground Strike, Update Death Toll

Frédéric Cuvillier, the French junior minister for transport, said France is ruling out a ground strike as the cause of the crash of the Air Algérie flight over Mali.

French President François Hollande also spoke to the press Friday, updating the number of casualties to 118, more than had been originally reported.

25/07/2014 10:28 BST

French President: No Sign Of Survivors

25/07/2014 09:29 BST

French Soldiers En Route To Guard Wreckage

A French military unit has been dispatched to secure the crash site of the Air Algerie jet that crashed in northern Mali on July 24, The Associated Press reported.

The troops aim to secure the evidence and human remains found about 30 miles from the border of Burkina Faso before extremists take over the area.

"Terrorist groups are in the zone ... We know these groups are hostile to Western interests," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio.

FMI: Click here.

25/07/2014 09:18 BST

Investigators: Jet Likely Crashed Due To Weather

French investigators believe bad weather may have played a role in the crash of Air Algerie Flight AH5017 on July 24, ITV reported.

"We think the aircraft crashed for reasons linked to the weather conditions, although no theory can be excluded at this point," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio.

For more, click here.

25/07/2014 02:39 BST

France: Plane Wreckage Spotted In Mali

The French government claimed that the wreckage of the Air Algerie plane that went missing was spotted in Mali's Gossi region, echoing similar reports made.

Malian state TV had reported similarly earlier, followed by a Burkina Faso official who said that the wreckage had been found near the border Mali-Burkina Faso border, the Associated Press reports.

-- Andrew Hart

24/07/2014 23:14 BST

Malian State TV Reports Wreckage Found In Mali

Reuters reports that Malian State TV has said that the wreckage of the Air Algerie flight was found close to Gossi in Mali.

24/07/2014 23:11 BST

More From The AP:

OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso (AP) — A Burkina Faso official says the wreckage of the Air Algerie plane that went missing has been found in Mali.

Gen. Gilbert Diendere says the wreckage was located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the border of Burkina Faso near the village of Boulikessi in Mali.

Diendere is a close aide to President Blaise Compaore and head of the crisis committee set up to coordinate research for the plane that vanished Thursday in a rainstorm over northern Mali.

He says searchers found human remains and burned and scattered plane wreckage.

24/07/2014 23:05 BST

AP: Wreckage Found

24/07/2014 22:55 BST

Swiftair

Swiftair, the company that owns the plane that went missing over Ukraine, says the wreckage has not been located yet.

","short_text":"

According to TeleSur TV, Mariela Castro reacted on Thursday to (false) rumors she was aboard the crashed Air Algerie plane. \"Maybe the media that published the news needed some publicity, but here I am,\" Castro reportedly said.

Read More"},{"id":"21","created":"24/07/2014 16:48 BST","title":"NBC Report: I Saw Mariela Castro This Morning","tweet_link":"21_nbc-report-i-saw-mariela-castro-this-morning","entry_text":"

There is growing confusion whether Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban leader Raul Castro, was aboard the Air Algerie plane. NBC's reporter in Havana, Mary Murray, reportedly personally saw the woman this morning.

NBC's Mary Murray in Havana reports she has personally seen Raul Castro's daughter Mariela this morning. She is NOT on #AirAlgerie

— Tom Costello (@tomcostellonbc) July 24, 2014

","short_text":"

There is growing confusion whether Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban leader Raul Castro, was aboard the Air Algerie plane. NBC's reporter in Havana, Mary Murray, reportedly personally saw the woman this morning.

Read More"},{"id":"20","created":"24/07/2014 15:48 BST","title":"Burkina Faso Airport: Wreckage Found","tweet_link":"20_burkina-faso-airport-wreckage-found","entry_text":"

Burkina Faso airport official confirms wreckage from Air Algerie plane with 116 on board found in Mali - @NBCNews http://t.co/renLiJVSyv

— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) July 24, 2014

","short_text":"

Burkina Faso airport official confirms wreckage from Air Algerie plane with 116 on board found in Mali - @NBCNews http://t.co/renLiJV...Read More"},{"id":"19","created":"24/07/2014 15:46 BST","title":"Air Algerie Tweets Possible Location Of Crash Site","tweet_link":"19_air-algerie-tweets-possible-location-of-crash-site","entry_text":"

FLASH INFOS : AH5017 L'avion se serait crashé à Tilemsi. L'avion se serait crashé dans la région de Tilemsi, à 70km de Gao.

— Air Algérie (@Air_Algerie) July 24, 2014

The plane would have crashed in the Tilemsi region, 70 kms from Gao.

","short_text":"

FLASH INFOS : AH5017 L'avion se serait crashé à Tilemsi. L'avion se serait crashé dans la région de Tilemsi, à 70km de Gao.

— Air Algérie (@Air_Algerie) Read More"},{"id":"18","created":"24/07/2014 15:45 BST","title":"Ouagadougou Airport: Crash Site Located","tweet_link":"18_ouagadougou-airport-crash-site-located","entry_text":"

Ouagadougou airport says Mariela Castro, the niece of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, was aboard the missing plane.

Among the passengers of flight AH5017, there were 2 European officials with French nationality who were stationed in Ouagadougo and Mariela Castro, the niece of Fidel Castro, former head of state of Cuba.

","short_text":"

Ouagadougou airport says Mariela Castro, the niece of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, was aboard the missing plane.

","short_text":"

Officials tell CBS News Air Algerie plane has crashed.

JUST IN: Algerian official tells CBS News Flight AH5017 from Burkina Faso to Algiers crashed with 116 people onboard Read More"},{"id":"14","created":"24/07/2014 14:47 BST","title":"Map Showing Planned Route","tweet_link":"14_map-showing-planned-route","entry_text":"

Map showing the planned route of missing Air Algerie Flight AH 5017 pic.twitter.com/36CS9QgLdr

— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) July 24, 2014

","short_text":"

Map showing the planned route of missing Air Algerie Flight AH 5017 pic.twitter.com/36CS9QgLdr

— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) Read More"},{"id":"13","created":"24/07/2014 13:57 BST","title":"Official: Plane Has Crashed","tweet_link":"13_official-plane-has-crashed","entry_text":"

Reuters reports that an Algerian aviation official has said the missing plane has crashed.

Missing #AirAlgerie flight has crashed: Algerian aviation official #Algeria

— Reuters Africa (@ReutersAfrica) July 24, 2014

","short_text":"

Reuters reports that an Algerian aviation official has said the missing plane has crashed.

Missing #AirAlgerie flight has c...Read More"},{"id":"12","created":"24/07/2014 13:42 BST","title":"French Jets Search For Missing Air Algerie Flight","tweet_link":"12_french-jets-search-for-missing-air-algerie-flight","entry_text":"

From Reuters:

PARIS, July 24 (Reuters) - Two French fighter jets based in West Africa have been deployed to try and locate a missing Air Algerie flight, a French army spokesman said on Thursday.

\"Two Mirage 2000 jets based in Africa were dispatched to try to locate the Air Algerie plane that disappeared on Thursday,\" French army spokesman Gilles Jaron said. \"They will search an area from its last known destination along its probable route.\"

","short_text":"

From Reuters:

PARIS, July 24 (Reuters) - Two French fighter jets based in West Africa have been deployed to try and locate a missing Air Al...Read More"},{"id":"11","created":"24/07/2014 13:34 BST","title":"More On Possible Crash Location","tweet_link":"11_more-on-possible-crash-location","entry_text":"

BREAKING: Air Algerie plane believed to have crashed between Gao and Tessalit in Mali, BBC reports quoting UN troops

— Michael van Poppel (@mpoppel) July 24, 2014

","short_text":"

BREAKING: Air Algerie plane believed to have crashed between Gao and Tessalit in Mali, BBC reports quoting UN troops

— Michael van Poppel (@mpoppel) Read More"},{"id":"10","created":"24/07/2014 13:33 BST","title":"Algerian Prime Minister: Plane Disappeared Above The Gao Region","tweet_link":"10_algerian-prime-minister-plane-disappeared-above-the-gao-region","entry_text":"

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that the plane disappeared around 3a.m Thursday. The last contact with the plane took place 10 minutes before its disappearance in the Gao region.

\"There were 119 passengers on board the plane, including the Spanish crew. Searches are in progress with the relevant authorities. The victims are of multiple nationalities,\" he said without giving more detail. A representative of Air Algerie, Zohir Houari, confirmed that the disappearance took place above Gao, an area where militant group The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) remains active.

--Said Djaafer

","short_text":"

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that the plane disappeared around 3a.m Thursday. The last contact with the plane took place 10 minutes before its disappearance in the Gao region.

\"There were 119 passengers on board the plane, inclu...Read More"},{"id":"9","created":"24/07/2014 13:27 BST","title":"50 French Nationals On Passenger List","tweet_link":"9_50-french-nationals-on-passenger-list","entry_text":"

Air Algerie #AH5017 passenger list contained 50 French nationals - Air Algerie rep http://t.co/5Zso43Mmur

— Circa (@Circa) July 24, 2014

","short_text":"

Air Algerie #AH5017 passenger list contained 50 French nationals - Air Algerie rep http://t.co/5Zso43Mmur

&...Read More"},{"id":"8","created":"24/07/2014 13:07 BST","title":"REPORT: Plane Requested Route Change Due To Bad Weather","tweet_link":"8_report-plane-requested-route-change-due-to-bad-weather","entry_text":"

Missing airliner requested change of route at 01:38 GMT due to bad weather - China's People's Daily citing Burkina Faso minister

— Michael van Poppel (@mpoppel) July 24, 2014

","short_text":"

Missing airliner requested change of route at 01:38 GMT due to bad weather - China's People's Daily citing Burkina Faso minister

— Michael van Poppel (@mpoppel) Read More"},{"id":"7","created":"24/07/2014 12:53 BST","title":"Stormy Weather Spotted On Flight Path","tweet_link":"7_stormy-weather-spotted-on-flight-path","entry_text":"

Satellite image showing storms over Air Algerie route last night: pic.twitter.com/Kkf0R5UiF2

— Alistair Bunkall (@AliBunkallSKY) July 24, 2014

","short_text":"

Satellite image showing storms over Air Algerie route last night: pic.twitter.com/Kkf0R5UiF2

— Alistair Bunkall (@AliBunkallSKY) Read More"},{"id":"6","created":"24/07/2014 12:40 BST","title":"Details About The Passengers, Crew Revealed","tweet_link":"6_details-about-the-passengers-crew-revealed","entry_text":"

According to the the Spanish News Agency EFE, at least 80 passengers aboard Flight AH5017 are French nationals.

The crew -- two pilots and four cabin attendants -- are all Spaniards.

--Montserrat Dominguez

","short_text":"

According to the the Spanish News Agency EFE, at least 80 passengers aboard Flight AH5017 are French nationals.

The crew -- two pilots and four cabin attendants -- are all Spaniards.

--Montserrat Dominguez
\n

"},{"id":"5","created":"24/07/2014 12:33 BST","title":"Crisis Unit Set Up In Ouagadougou Airport","tweet_link":"5_crisis-unit-set-up-in-ouagadougou-airport","entry_text":"

Aviation authorities in Burkina Faso have set up a crisis unit in Ouagadougou airport to provide information and support to the families of passengers and crew members on Flight AH5017, Reuters reported.

Authorities in Niger, Mali, Algeria and Spain are also launching search efforts for the missing plane.

FMI: Click here.

","short_text":"

Aviation authorities in Burkina Faso have set up a crisis unit in Ouagadougou airport to provide information and support to the families of...Read More"},{"id":"4","created":"24/07/2014 12:16 BST","title":"Flight AH5017 Crew Was Asked To Change Course","tweet_link":"4_flight-ah5017-crew-was-asked-to-change-course","entry_text":"

Air Algerie lost contact with one of its planes on Thursday just after the crew was asked to make a course change, Agence France-Presse reported.

\"The plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route,\" the Air Algerie source said. \"Contact was lost after the change of course.\"

Click here for more.

","short_text":"

Air Algerie lost contact with one of its planes on Thursday just after the crew was asked to make a course change, Agence France-Presse...Read More"},{"id":"3","created":"24/07/2014 11:52 BST","title":"Airline Has No Comment Yet","tweet_link":"3_airline-has-no-comment-yet","entry_text":"

Actuellement nous n'avons aucune nouvelles du VolAH5017. Merci

— Air Algérie (@Air_Algerie) July 24, 2014

Translation: \"Currently we have no news of VolAH5017. Thank you\"

","short_text":"

Actuellement nous n'avons aucune nouvelles du VolAH5017. Merci

— Air Algérie (@Air_Algerie) July 24, 2014

Read More"},{"id":"2","created":"24/07/2014 11:46 BST","title":"116 Passengers, Crew On Board Missing Plane","tweet_link":"2_116-passengers-crew-on-board-missing-plane","entry_text":"

BREAKING: Owner of missing plane operated by Air Algerie says 110 passengers and 6 crew were aboard.

— The Associated Press (@AP) July 24, 2014

","short_text":"

BREAKING: Owner of missing plane operated by Air Algerie says 110 passengers and 6 crew were aboard.

— The Associated Press (@AP) July ...Read More"},{"id":"1","created":"24/07/2014 11:44 BST","title":"Map of Flight AH5017's Route","tweet_link":"1_map-of-flight-ah5017s-route","entry_text":"

Air Algerie plane disappears from radar: http://t.co/dkARmEJD5b pic.twitter.com/6nB48eTi6r

— 11Alive News (@11AliveNews) July 24, 2014

","short_text":"

Air Algerie plane disappears from radar: http://t.co/dkARmEJD5b pic.twitter.com/6nB48eTi6r

— 11Alive News (@11AliveNews) <...Read More"}]

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