Air Algerie plane with 116 aboard crashes in Mali
USA Today | July 24, 2014
An Air Algerie flight en route to Algiers from Burkina Faso with 116 people aboard — including 50 French citizens — crashed Thursday in northeastern Mali, the airlines said.
The airlines said on its Twitter account that the plane went down about 40 miles from the Malian city of Gao. It did not give any additional details.
"The plane disappeared at Gao (in Mali), (300 miles) from the Algerian border. Several nationalities are among the victims," Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal was cited as saying by Algerian radio, the French news agency AFP reports.
Ouagadougou Airport in Burkina Faso says on its Facebook page that the passengers on the flight included two European officials of French nationality stationed in Ouagadougou as well as Mariela Castro niece of Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba. Mariela Castro told Globovision that the report was erroneous.
Air navigation services lost track of AH0517 about 50 minutes after takeoff at 0155 GMT (9:55 p.m. ET Wednesday), the Algerian news agency APS reports.
An unidentified Algerian aviation official also told Reuters that the plane had crashed, but declined to provide details on where the plane was or what caused the accident. CBS News also quotes an unidentified Algerian officials as saying the plane had crashed.
The pilot reportedly contacted air traffic control in Niamey, Niger, to change course because of a storm, the BBC reports.
The French news agency AFP quotes an unidentified source with the airlines as saying 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 flight encountered thunderstorms with frequent lightning while flying across southern Mali, but, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Anthony Sagliani, the thunderstorms were not particularly violent.
"In general, there were scattered showers and thunderstorms across all of Burkina Faso and the southern half of Mali." Sagliani said. "This was with the monsoon trough which is typically found here in late July. So this activity was quite normal."