24 July 2014 22:12

BAMAKO - Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said on Thursday that the wreckage of a missing Air Algerie flight had been spotted in his country's desert north.
"I have just been informed that the wreckage has been found between Aguelhoc and Kidal," Keita said during a meeting of political, religious and civil society leaders in Bamako. He did not give any more details.
An Air Algerie flight with 110 passengers onboard, nearly half of them French citizens, crashed on Thursday after the jet disappeared over northern Mali en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers, an Algerian official said.
There were few clear indications of what might have happened to flight AH5017, or whether there were casualties, but Burkina Faso's transport minister said the crew asked to adjust their route at 0138 GMT because of a storm in the area.
"I can confirm that it has crashed," the Algerian official told Reuters, declining to be identified or give any details about what had happened to the aircraft on its way north.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the Air Algerie flight was still missing, but had probably crashed.
"Despite intensive search efforts no trace of the aircraft has yet been found," Fabius told journalists in Paris. "The plane probably crashed."
French President Francois Hollande cancelled a planned visit to overseas territories and said all military means on the ground would be used to locate the aircraft.
Two French Mirage warplanes have been scouring the vast desert area around the northern Malian city of Gao for the aircraft, which had 51 French nationals on board.
"The search will take as long as needed," Hollande told reporters. "Everything must be done to find this plane. We cannot identify the causes of what happened," he said.
Niger security sources said planes were flying over the border region with Mali to search for the flight.
Algeria's state news agency APS said authorities lost contact with flight an hour after it took off from Burkina Faso, but other officials gave differing accounts of the times of contact, adding to confusion about the plane's fate.
Swiftair, the private Spanish company that owns the plane, confirmed it had lost contact with the MD-83 operated by Air Algerie, which it said was carrying 110 passengers and six crew.
It said it took off from Burkina Faso at 0117 GMT and was due to land at 0510 GMT but never reached its destination.
The photo shown here is of the Air Algerie plane but was taken earlier this month.


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