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Air Algerie Flight AH5017 Carrying 116 Passengers Has Crashed: Algerian Official

( [email protected] ) Jul 24, 2014 11:01 AM EDT

 

Missing Air Algerie Plane
Missing Air Algerie plane (Reuters)

The Air Algerie flight that fell off the radar early Thursday while traveling from Burkina Faso to Algiers has crashed, an Algerian official reported. 

 

"I can confirm that it has crashed," an Algerian officialtold Reuters Immediately after the plane disappeared, emergency services in France has begun searching for flight AH501. The plane is thought to have gone down in Mali.

Flight 5017 lost radar contact 50 minutes after takeoff from Ouagadougou, Bukrina Faso Thursday morning and was supposed to arrive at Algiers Houari Boumediene Airport four hours later. Weather satellites showed thunderstorms between the two cities. 

"We have lost contact with the plane," Swiftair told the Associated Press.

"At this moment, emergency services and our staff are working on finding out more on this situation."

The plane, which belongs to a private Spanish company, Switfair was carrying 110 passengers, two pilots and four crew members.

Air Algerie released a statement, saying "In keeping with procedure, Air Algerie has launched its emergency plan."

France is currently seeking more information about the location of the missing flight, following unconfirmed reports that many French and Spanish citizens were on board.

"We are entirely mobilized in Paris as well as in Algiers and Ouagadougou where our embassies are in constant contact with local authorities and the airline," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

According to Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo, the plane's last contact early Thursday morning when the plane's pilot radioed in to a control tower at an airport in Niamey, Niger, to say the flight path had changed due to inclement weather.

"Satellite images showed strong thunderstorm activity just north of Ouagadougou at the reported time of the incident," said weather.com meteorologist Nick Wiltgen. "The thunderstorms had been moving southwestward into that area for several hours, so in theory air traffic controllers would have been aware of them and adjusted flight paths accordingly."

An Air Algerie sources told the Associated Press that that may have been what happened.

"The plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route," the source stated. "Contact was lost after the change of course."

Air Algerie is Algeria's national airline, with flights to 28 countries. The plane's disappearance was announced exactly one week after a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 198 passengers was shot down in Ukraine. Those killed in the crash included citizens from multiple countries, including the Netherlands and Australia.