News / Africa

Officials Seek Cause of Air Algerie Crash

  • French and European flags fly at half-staff, Quai d'Orsay, in Paris, July 28, 2014.
  • Algerian Transport Minister Amar Ghoul (center) speaks at a news conference regarding Air Algerie AH5017, in Bamako, Mali, July 27, 2014.
  • President François Hollande announced three days of mourning and ordered that flags on government buildings across France fly at half-staff for three days after the death of 118 people, including 54 French nationals, in the crash of Air Algerie flight AH5017 in Mali, in Paris, July 28, 2014.
  • This photo provided by the French army shows soldiers at the site of the Air Algerie plane crash in Mali, July 25, 2014.
  • This photo provided by the Burkina Faso military shows a part of the Air Algerie plane at the crash site in Mali, July 25, 2014.
  • This photo provided by the French army shows the site of the Air Algerie plane crash in Mali, July 25, 2014.
  • This photo provided by the French army shows the site of the Air Algerie plane crash in Mali, July 25, 2014.
The Air Algerie Crash
Lisa Bryant

Authorities appear to have ruled out a missile attack in the crash of an Air Algerie flight that went down in Mali on Thursday, but many questions remain.

The plane was carrying 118 passengers French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters Friday  - 112 passengers and 6 crew members. Fifty-four French nationals are among the victims.  Fabius said all victims' families have been notified.

In a brief statement at the Elysee palace in Paris on Friday, French President Francois Hollande said French soldiers had reached the crash site of the Air Algerie plane in a northern Mali desert not far from the Burkina Faso border.  Fabius said the team had recovered one of the plane's two black boxes.

French President Francois Hollande holds a news conference after Air Algerie flight AH5017 crashed on Thursday en route from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 24, 2014.French President Francois Hollande holds a news conference after Air Algerie flight AH5017 crashed on Thursday en route from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 24, 2014.
x
French President Francois Hollande holds a news conference after Air Algerie flight AH5017 crashed on Thursday en route from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 24, 2014.
French President Francois Hollande holds a news conference after Air Algerie flight AH5017 crashed on Thursday en route from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 24, 2014.

The French leader said the aircraft's wreckage was strewn over a fairly small area. Officials say a powerful sandstorm struck the region around the time of the crash. 

Fabius described the crash location as a sandy field that was difficult to reach due to conditions made worse by the current rainy season. He said a small group of 30 French soldiers had been dispatched to the area immediately after the crash site was located, and that the group would be bolstered by an additional 170 troops from France, Mali and The Netherlands. 

While weather may have caused the crash, President Hollande said no hypothesis can be ruled out. The plane had been flying through bad weather, Fabius told reporters, confirming that the pilot had requested a change of course, but experts say that is rarely the only reason for a crash.

Missile strike, bomb ruled out

Terrorism has not been ruled out, since militants are known to operate in the area.  But officials say the plane did not likely explode in the air, since the debris is scattered over a relatively small area. Earlier, France's Transportation Minister said experts had ruled out a missile strike, like the one that downed the Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine.

Experts say a bomb may also be unlikely, because it seems the plane may have crashed on impact.  Technical failure or pilot error are other options, but officials say the SwiftAir company that owned the plane had a good reputation.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The flight, which originated in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, crashed about 150 kilometers south of the Malian city of Gao.  The remote and deserted area was the target of a French military offensive last year to oust Islamist militants controlling it.


In a radio interview,  French journalist and Africa expert Antoine Glaser said the area was less dangerous today than parts further north, but no part of the region is fully secure.

Waiting for answers

In Africa and in France, relatives of the passengers are waiting for answers.
 
“I truly regret to inform you that this plane has crashed and has been found in smithereens," Burkina Faso’s Prime Minister, Luc Adolphe Tiao, told families of passengers on board the flight during a statement at the airport in Ouagadougou.  "So there doesn’t seem to be any possibility to say that there are any survivors. That because the aircraft disintegrated into several pieces, the bodies of the passengers will be difficult to recover.”

Dramane Ouedraogo, who lost seven of his family members in the crash, said he is still in shock.
 
“I live in Ouagadougou, but my family was visiting me from France. I was with them at the airport yesterday, just until the moment of takeoff…Now I have lost my younger brother and his wife, my sister and her four children," he lamented.

According to SwiftAir, a total of 24 Burkina Faso nationals were on the plane, along with the French passengers, six Spanish crew members and eight from Lebanon, six from Algeria, and smaller numbers from at least 12 other countries.

“We are giving all the assistance available and possible to the families of this crisis, and will assist them and rest by their side and work to better support them, doing all that is possible to help them through this tragedy," Burkina Faso’s Minister of Communications, Alain Traoré, said, adding that the government continues to work to identify the cause of the accident and is standing by the families who lost loved ones.
 
Mourning period

Crisis centers have been set up at the airports in Ouagadougou and Algiers to support family members.
 
Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaoré announced two days of national mourning for the 24 Burkinabe who lost their lives. Compaore, along with Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, are scheduled to visit the crash site Friday afternoon.
Jennifer Lazuta contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal, Zoumana Wonongo reported from Ouagadougou, and Amadou Maiga reported from Bamako. 

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid