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Air Algerie flight AH5017 crashes in Africa

July 24, 2014, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso - Burkina Faso's transport minister says five Canadians were among those onboard an Air Algerie flight that officials said disappeared from radar over northern Mali after heavy rains were reported.


July 24, 2014
By CBC News

The plane was carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's
capital, according to the plane's owner and government officials in
France and Burkina Faso. Nearly half of the passengers were French.

 

Air navigation services lost track of the MD-83 about 50 minutes
after takeoff from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, at 9:55
p.m. EDT Wednesday, the official Algerian news agency APS said.

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The list of passengers includes 51 French, 27 Burkina Faso nationals,
eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two
Luxemburg nationals, one Swiss, one Belgium, one Egyptian, one
Ukrainian, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian, Burkina Faso
Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said. The six crew members are
Spanish, according to the Spanish pilots' union.

The plane sent its last message around 9:30 p.m. EDT, asking Niger air
control to change its route because of heavy rains in the area,
Ouedraogo said.

French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier said the plane vanished
over northern Mali. He spoke Thursday from a crisis centre set up in the
French Foreign Ministry. Cuvillier didn't specify exactly where the
plane disappeared over Mali, or whether it was in an area controlled by
rebels.

 

But Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said on Algerian state
television that 10 minutes before disappearing, the plane was in contact
with air traffic controllers in Gao, a city essentially under the
control of the Malian government, though it has seen lingering
separatist violence.

 

The plane had been missing for hours before the news was made public.
It wasn't immediately clear why airline or government officials didn't
make it public earlier.

 

Air Algerie Flight 5017 was being operated by Spanish airline
Swiftair, the company said in a statement. The Spanish pilots' union
said the plane belonged to Swiftair.

 

The flight path of the plane from Ouagadougou to Algiers wasn't
immediately clear. Ouagadougou is in a nearly straight line south of
Algiers, passing over Mali where unrest continues in the north.

The MD-83 is part of a series of long-range jets built since the early 1980s by McDonnell Douglas, a U.S. plane maker now owned by Boeing Co.

 

Said Chitour, an Algiers-based freelance reporter, said some of the
passengers’ loved ones have gathered at the airport there to await any
news.

 

The search for the plane will be difficult, Chitour said, as it was set to cross a large swath of the desert.

“It’s a very tough area where there’s nothing … it’s the middle of nowhere, really,” Chitour told CBC News Network.