ALGIERS: An Air Algerie plane missing since early Thursday over Mali with 116 passengers and crew, including 50 French nationals, on board probably crashed, French President Francois Hollande said.
Speaking on French television, Hollande said: “Everything leads us to believe that the plane has crashed.” He said the plane’s Spanish crew had signalled they were altering course “due to particularly difficult weather conditions”. He vowed to deploy all of France’s military means in Mali, where it has hundreds of troops, to track down the wreckage of the missing plane. Flight AH5017, which originated in Ouagadougou and was bound for Algiers, went missing in the early morning amid reports of heavy storms, company sources and officials said.
“Contact was lost with the McDonnell Douglas 83 at 1:47, a little after the pilots said they were diverting from the route due to meteorological reasons,” Fabius said. Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal was earlier cited as saying by Algerian radio that the plane dropped off the radar at Gao, 500 kilometres the Algerian border. The airline said it had 50 French, 24 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, six Spanish, five Canadians, four Germans and two Luxembourg nationals on board. The wreck of the Air Algerie plane was found in Mali near the Burkina Faso border, said a coordinator for the crisis unit in Ouagadougou.
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