Missing Algerian Airliner Crashed: No Survivors (Updated)
The wreckage of a missing Air Algerie MD-83 has been located in Mali, about 30 miles north of the Burkina Faso border, on a flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers. Reports indicate there were no survivors among the 166 aboard. Contact was lost about 50 minutes after takeoff from Ouagadougou, Air Algerie said, as the plane crossed into Mali. A BBC report shows that severe thunderstorms were in the area. The pilot had contacted Niger's control tower in Niamey to change course because of a storm, correspondents say. The French military said it sent two French fighters based in West Africa to try to locate the plane.
France's civil aviation body said crisis centers had been set up at airports in Paris and Marseille. The plane is operated by Air Algerie but chartered from Spanish airline Swiftair. The six crew members are Spanish, according to the Spanish pilots union. "In keeping with procedures, Air Algerie has launched its emergency plan," Air Algerie officials, quoted by the APS news agency (in French), said. Later, an Algerian official told Reuters: "I can confirm that it has crashed." UN troops in Mali say they understand the plane came down between Gao and Tessalit, the BBC's Alex Duval Smith in the Malian capital Bamako reports. 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, a BBC correspondent reported.