Air Algerie Flight AH5017 Feared Crashed Near Mali-Algeria Border With 116 People On Board

Corrected to reflect changed take-off and estimated landing times in the seventh paragraph.

Update as of 8:30 a.m. EDT: An Air Algerie spokesperson said that there were at least 50 French nationals on board Flight AH5017.

Reuters reported that the French military had dispatched two fighter jets to locate the plane, based on the aircraft's flight path. The French government has also reportedly set up a crisis centre to assist relatives of the missing passengers.

Update as of 7:57 a.m. EDT: According to a BBC report citing United Nations troops in Bamako, Mali, the plane is believed to have crashed in bad weather in a sparsely populated region, between Gao and Tessalit, near the country's border with Algeria that is also known for insurgent activity.

The head of Mali's National Civil Aviation Agency reportedly said that a search has been launched to locate the missing plane, according to Reuters.

"We do not know if the plane is Malian territory," he told Reuters. "Aviation authorities are mobilized in all the countries concerned - Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria and even Spain."

Update as of 6.45 a.m. EDT: Swiftair, a Spanish private airline company that owns the aircraft operated by Air Algerie, said in a statement that it had lost contact with it, on Thursday.

The company said that the MD-83 aircraft took off from Ouagadougou at 1:17 a.m. GMT Thursday (9:17 p.m. EDT Wednesday) and was supposed to land in Algiers at 5:10 a.m. GMT (1:10 a.m. EDT) but never reached its destination. The company confirmed that the aircraft had 110 passengers and six crew members on board.

An unnamed Air Algerie company source, speaking to Agence France-Presse, said that 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." He said that contact with the plane was lost after the change of course.  

Reuters, citing an unnamed Algerian official, reported that the last contact with the missing plane was made when it was over Gao, in Mali.

 

Algerian air traffic control has reportedly lost contact with an Air Algerie plane over West Africa, 50 minutes after take-off from Ouagadougou -- the capital city of Burkina Faso, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday.

Algeria Press Service, or APS, also reported that Air navigation services had lost contact with the plane flying from Ouagadougou to Algiers.

The Australian News Network reported that the aircraft is Flight AH5017. However, the flight number and the number of passengers on the plane have still not been confirmed by the airline.

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