Air Algerie AH5017: 'No survivors' from crash in Mali

Almost half of the 116 people on board were French, as Alex Duval Smith reports

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There are no survivors from the Air Algerie AH5017 passenger jet that crashed in Mali, says the French President, Francois Hollande.

Mr Hollande said one flight data recorder had been recovered, after French troops reached the crash site near Mali's border with Burkina Faso.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane early on Thursday after pilots reported severe storms.

Almost half of the 116 people on board were French, including a family of 10.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 had been chartered from Spanish airline, Swiftair. It was flying from Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, to Algiers.

Tomasz Schafernaker: "Thunderstorms stretching up to 15km into the air can cause turbulence, icing on the wings and lightning"

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told French radio network RTL that "the aircraft was destroyed at the moment it crashed".

"We think the aircraft crashed for reasons linked to the weather conditions, although no theory can be excluded at this point," he said.

A team of 100 French soldiers, with 30 vehicles, had travelled to the crash site on Friday, a French defence ministry official said.

location of missing plane

The team was part of a force that was deployed to Mali last year to combat an insurgency backed by al-Qaeda.

"French soldiers who are on the ground have started the first investigations," Mr Hollande said on Friday. "Sadly there are no survivors."

Sandstorm alert

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.

On Friday, the UK Foreign Office said a British man was also among the dead. He has yet to be identified.

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

The family of 10 who died were from the east of France. They included Michel Reynaud and his ex-wife, their two sons and two daughters, and four grandchildren.

A friend of the family told French newspaper Le Bien Public that they had been on "the trip of a lifetime" in Burkina Faso. "It is a tragedy," she said.

French soldiers inspect the wreckage of the Air Algerie flight AH5017 at the crash site in Mali - 25 July 2014 A team of 100 French soldiers travelled to the region on Friday to secure the crash site
View of Ouagadougou airport, Burkina Faso The aircraft had taken off from Ougadougou airport, and lost contact with the ground soon afterwards
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McDonnell Douglas MD-83
  • Twin rear-engine, short-medium range airliner
  • More powerful version of the MD-80 type, based on earlier DC-9
  • Range: 4,637km (2,881 miles)
  • Capacity: 172 passengers
  • First flew: 1984
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