Air Algerie plane wreck found in Mali

Air Algerie plane wreck found in Mali

PanARMENIAN.Net - The wreck of a plane that disappeared with 116 people on board on a flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers has been found in Mali, officials say, according to BBC News.

The French president's office said that troops were on their way to secure the site, about 50km (30 miles) from the Burkina Faso border.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane early on Thursday, July 24, after pilots reported severe storms. The passengers on the Air Algerie flight included 51 French citizens.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 - Flight AH 5017 - had been chartered from Spanish airline Swiftair.

President Francois Hollande expressed solidarity with the friends and families of those on board. "A French military unit has been sent to (the area) to secure the site and gather evidence," his office said in a statement.

The statement went on to say that the plane had "disintegrated", without giving further details.

The crash site was identified on Thursday by the Burkina Faso army. "At the moment we have no further information on (the fate of) the passengers but our teams are hard at work" said Gilbert Diendere, a Burkina Faso army general, according to the BBC.

Gen Diendere said Mali had agreed to their cross-border search which was launched after a resident in Gossi described seeing a plane go down to the south-west of the town.

"They found human remains and the wreckage of the plane totally burnt and scattered," he told the Associated Press.

Malian state television confirmed that the wreckage was found in the village of Boulikessi by a helicopter from Burkina Faso.

French fighter jets and UN helicopters had been hunting for the wreck in the more remote desert region of northern Mali between Gao and Tessalit.

Contact with Flight AH 5017 was lost about 50 minutes after take-off from Ouagadougou early on Thursday morning, Air Algerie said.

The pilot had contacted Niger's control tower in Niamey at around 01:30 GMT to change course because of a sandstorm, officials say.

Burkina Faso authorities said the passenger list comprised 27 people from Burkina Faso, 51 French, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, two from Luxembourg, five Canadians, four Germans, one Cameroonian, one Belgian, one Egyptian, one Ukrainian, one Swiss, one Nigerian and one Malian.

The six crew members are Spanish, according to the Spanish pilots' union.

Flight AH 5017 flies the Ouagadougou-Algiers route four times a week.

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