News / Africa

French Military Sent to Secure Mali Plane Crash Site

An Algerian crisis unit meets at the Houari-Boumediene International Airport in Algiers, July 24, 2014 following the disappearance of an Air Algerie plane over Mali.
An Algerian crisis unit meets at the Houari-Boumediene International Airport in Algiers, July 24, 2014 following the disappearance of an Air Algerie plane over Mali.
VOA News

France has sent a military unit to secure the wreckage of an Air Algerie plane that crashed in Mali on its way from Burkina Faso to Algeria with 116 people on board.

President Francois Hollande's office said in a statement Friday the plane, which was carrying 51 French nationals, was clearly identified even though it has "disintegrated."

There have been no reports of survivors.

General Gilbert Diendere of Burkina Faso's army confirmed the plane was spotted in northeastern Mali between the desert regions of Aguelhoc and Kidal.

"At this location the (rescue) mission found debris from the plane that unfortunately included the remains of human bodies," Diendere said.

"We have not been able to evaluate properly because night began to fall and rescuers confirmed to us that they have seen the totally burnt and scattered wreckage of the plane. Unfortunately, our team saw nobody (alive). The team saw no survivors there," he said.

Authorities say the flight encountered strong storms after taking off from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

There were few clear indications of what might have happened to the airliner, but Burkina Faso's transport minister said the crew asked to adjust their route at 0138 GMT because of a storm in the area.

It is not yet known if weather played a role in the plane’s disappearance. The flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers should have taken four hours.

Earlier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters the aircraft "probably crashed," as French fighter jets based in West Africa were taking part in the search. 

French President Francois Hollande canceled a planned visit to overseas territories and said all military means on the ground would be used to locate the aircraft.

Earlier Thursday, Kara Terki, a spokesman for Air Algeria, confirmed there had been no sign of the plane since around 0330 GMT, about one hour before it was scheduled to land in Algiers Thursday morning.

The MD-83 aircraft, constructed in 1996, was chartered by Air Algerie from Spanish airline Swiftair. SwiftAir said in a statement it was continuing to work with Air Algerie and local authorities to locate the missing plane.

Air Algerie Last Known Position
Air Algerie Last Known Position

Last seen over northern Mali

Security officials in Mali told VOA that the plane was last seen on radar over northern Mali, between Gao and Tissalit, near the border with Burkina Faso.

Gao was one of the towns in northern Mali seized by al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants in 2012. The Malian government regained control after a French-led  military intervention last year, but militants continue to attack French and government troops.

Algerian officials have set up a crisis team at the Algiers airport, while Swiftair said emergency equipment and personnel have been deployed to find out what happened to the plane.

According to Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Transportation, there were 110 passengers and six crew members on board, including 50 French citizens and 24 Burkinabe.

They said most of the passengers were in transit to destinations in Europe.

The plane was chartered by Air Algerie from Spanish airline Swiftair.

VOA's Jennifer Lazuta contributed to this report. Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: Concerned global citizen from: Southeastasia
July 26, 2014 5:32 AM
If the criminals who massacred 298 people up in the sky flying on Malaysian Airlines 17 are not brought to JUSTICE soon, sooner there will be copycat crimes on almost every part of this planet. There will be criminals craving to shoot down flying passenger planes just in order to get the the valuables and belongings of the passengers.

Mr Obama, Mr Cameron, Mr Najib, and all leaders of nations who love peace and order, please do your utmost now to apprehend the criminals who downed MH17 and bring them to justice soon. Don't you care about the safety of your loved ones who will sooner or later be flying on one of the planes to be targeted at any height by copycat passenger plane shooters?

by: Not Again from: Canada
July 24, 2014 2:12 PM
Another tragedy, and probably another needless tragedy, taking the lives of innocent people; causing great suffering to the families and friends, of the victims.
Lately Air Safety is taking a bad downturn. Every one of these major bad flights destinations, they are not accidents, in the past few months, in my view, indicate a very lax attitude with respect to flight planning, extremely lax routine pilot periodic reporting procedures, too many routes over poorly covered control zones, flights over known conflict zones. Accidents should be events that can't be prevented; most bad flight destinations (death), are fully preventable, if everyone involved did their work effectively, efficiently and using common sense.
Airlines' management need to be held accountable for all these bad destination flights. In most cases the pilots are dead, and the buck should not stop at the pilot, but should go up all the way the top of the airline. Just because the costs are being driven down, the passangers and crews should not be ending at the bad destination = DEAD.

by: VTA from: Vietnam
July 24, 2014 11:54 AM
NO! I do not believe the news of planes! The God does not love and cherish us anymore!!! Do not leave us alone!

Pray for all souls! I trust in the God!

by: Biyi from: Ilorin,Nigeria
July 24, 2014 9:54 AM
It's rather pathetic that we're having another craft missing!The MH370,MH17,Taiwan craft&Air force craft in Nigeria! Our meteorologists should do more while security should be step up at the airports!

by: Dr. Dee from: USA
July 24, 2014 9:06 AM
Does the FAA know? Have they banned flights to Algeria? How about Syria, Lebanon, Ukraine, and Russia?

What hypocrites run my country!

by: Crystal S. from: Ann Arbor, MI
July 24, 2014 8:13 AM
I really feel like this is a joke. Really. Another one? What's going on! It's gotta be a hoax! Someones pranking us?

This just doesn't make any sense anymore...

by: tom from: TX
July 24, 2014 7:25 AM
OK people, can someone please tell me what happened to our plane? Who was the pilot? - Boss. Mohammad Akbar was flying it boss. - Staffer. Oh - Boss

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