UK & World News

  • 25 July 2014, 13:04

No Survivors On Air Algerie Flight AH5017

No one survived an Air Algerie flight which crashed in southern Mali, French President Francois Hollande has said.

The burnt-out wreckage of the plane carrying 116 people, including 51 French nationals, which vanished from radar in West Africa has been discovered south of Gao.

Mr Hollande said the jet's black box flight recorder had also been recovered by the French military and was being taken to the town.

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

"The plane's debris is concentrated in a small area, but it is too early to draw conclusions."

He said bad weather was the likely cause of the crash, but added: "I'm not excluding any theory."

Burkina Faso's commander in chief, Gilbert Diendere, said a search team had gone from Burkina Faso to Mali to follow up on information they had received about the possible crash location.

He said: "This team has confirmed that it has seen the remains of the plane, totally burnt-out and scattered on the ground."

Minister of communications Alain Edouard Traore described the accident as the greatest tragedy in the country's air history.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who has declared two days of national mourning, is due to visit the crash site later.

The Air Algerie jet was travelling from Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou to Algerian capital Algiers when it disappeared around 50 minutes into the flight, following a request from the pilot to change course due to poor weather.

Also on the jet were 27 Burkina Faso nationals, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two Luxembourg nationals, one Swiss, one Belgian, one Egyptian, one Ukrainian, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian.

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

Flight AH5017 was owned by Spanish private airline Swiftair and operated by Air Algerie.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 had been missing for hours before news of its disappearance was made public.

Ouagadougou is in almost a straight line south of Algiers, separated by Mali where unrest continues in the north of the country.

Airlines had been warned not to fly over Mali in recent days, Sky News understands.

However, a senior French official said it was unlikely that fighters in Mali could shoot down a plane.

They are known to have shoulder-fired weapons, which could not hit an aircraft travelling at a cruising altitude of some 33,000ft.