The wreckage of the Air Algerie plane, a passenger aircraften route from Burkina Faso to Algeria carrying 116 people that went missing, has been found about 31 miles from the border of Burkina Faso near the village of Boulikessi in Mali, according to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
The plane was carrying 110 passengers and six crew members when it departed for Algeria. It disappeared from radar after diverting from its planned course due to bad weather, Air Algerie sales manager Zoheir Houaoui said.
Before vanishing, the pilots sent a final message to ask Niger air control to change its route because of heavy rain, Burkina Faso transport minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said.
According to French President Francois Hollande, “everything allows us to believe this plane crashed in Mali.” The crew changed its flight path because of particularly difficult weather conditions.
“We sent men with the agreement of the Mali government to the site and they found the wreckage of the plane with the help of the inhabitants of the area,” Hollande added.
Meanwhile, Burkina Faso Gen. Gilbert Diendere said no survivors were found.
Air Algerie reported that 50 French, 24 from Burkina Faso, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, six Spanish, five Canadians, four Germans and two Luxembourg nationals were on board. It said the passenger manifest also included one person each from Belgium, Cameroon, Egypt, Mali, Nigeria, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine as well as “three nationalities yet to be determined”.
Malian state television also said the debris of Flight 5017 was found by a helicopter from Burkina Faso.
“We found the plane by accident” said Sidi Ould Brahim, a Tuareg separatist who travelled Thursday from Mali to a refugee camp for Malians in Burkina Faso. “The plane was burned, there were traces of rain on the plane, and bodies were torn apart,” he told the Associated Press.
A Canadian family was among the victims of the Air Algerie plane crash, a French-language broadcaster LCN said. The couple and two children lived in a suburb of Montreal and were returning home with a friend – a resident of nearby Sherbrooke, Quebec – from another couple’s 50th wedding anniversary celebrations in Burkina Faso.
“It is confirmed that Canadians are among the victims,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement.
Burkina Faso’s government spokesman said on national TV that the country will observe 48 hours of mourning.
The plane is owned by a Spanish company Swiftair and leased by Algeria’s flagship carrier. It disappeared from radar less than an hour after it took off from Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou for Algiers. It was found about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the border of Burkina Faso near the village of Boulikessi in Mali, said Gen. Gilbert Diendere, a close aide to Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore and head of the crisis committee set up to investigate the flight.
Ma. Jane Cyres Caing
LNU ABCom Intern