WORLD

Air Algerie flight crashed confirmed

A Romanian citizen was aboard the plane.

An Air Algerie flight that went missing en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers has crashed, an Algerian aviation official told Reuters on Thursday. “I can confirm that it has crashed,” the official said, declining to give details of where the plane was or what caused the accident. Algeria’s national airline, Air Algerie, said contact was lost about 50 minutes after take-off from Ouagadougou, it said. The plane was last seen at 01:55 GMT. 50 French citizens were among the 110 passengers and six crew on board Flight AH 5017. The pilot had contacted Niger’s control tower in Niamey to change course because of a storm, correspondents say.
The Romanian minister of Foreign Affairs, Titus Corlatean, on Thursday afternoon confirmed the presence of a Romanian citizen aboard the plane that disappeared from radars. “I confirm the fact that, unfortunately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Algiers, through the Europe Department, confirmed to our embassy in Algiers the fact that on the passenger list of the disappeared plane – we still do not have the confirmation that it crashed – existed a Romanian citizen as well. The information was relayed by phone and we are waiting for a written confirmation,” Corlatean said on B1 TV
BBC says the route is well used by French travellers. France’s civil aviation body said crisis centres had been set up at airports in Paris and Marseille. “In keeping with procedures, Air Algerie has launched its emergency plan,” Air Algerie officials, quoted by APS news agency (in French), said.
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal reportedly told Algerian radio: “The plane disappeared at Gao (in Mali), 500km (300 miles) from the Algerian border.”
Bad weather
UN troops in Mali say they understand the plane came down between Gao and Tessalit, according to BBC. Brigadier General Koko Essien, who is leading the UN troops, told the BBC that the area leading up to the Algerian border was vast and sparsely populated. He added that weather in the area had been bad overnight. Armed groups are also said to be active in the area. However, at the moment the most probable scenario looks like a plane that came down in bad weather, our correspondent adds.
In a statement (in Spanish), Swiftair said that the aircraft was an MD83 and that they were unable to establish contact with it.
Flight AH 5017 flies the Ouagadougou-Algiers route four times a week, AFP reported. French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier told reporters that it was likely there were also many French nationals on board the plane.

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