MIAMI — Air Algerie flight 5017 crashed on Thursday in Mali near the city of Gao, according to Malian state TV. Officials had lost contact with the jet, an MD-83, fifty minutes after it departed Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso bound for Algier’s Houari Boumediene Airport.
The flight carried 110 passengers, two pilots, and four cabin crew members. According to reports, 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 were on-board the flight.
The airplane was one of two MD-83 aircraft that Air Algerie has in its fleet, both are currently on lease from Spanish charter-carrier Swiftair.
Radar at the time showed stormy activity in the vicinity, though nothing has been confirmed. The region has also seen extensive fighting between French/Malian forces and local insurgents. The US has banned carriers from over-flying the African nation due to the threat of RPGs, rockets, and other dangers. It was not known if there was any connection between such activity and the crash.
Initial reports differed on whether wreckage had been found, and where.
July 24, 2014 0905:
Reuters is reporting that an Algerian aviation officials has said the aircraft has crashed, and there have been other reports saying the aircraft crashed in Mali.
July 24, 2014 0900:
Swiftair said: “We have lost contact with the plane. At this moment, emergency services and our staff are working on finding out more on this situation.”
On Twitter, Air Algerie said: “Unfortunately, for the moment we have no more information than you do. We will give you the latest news live.”
There have been unconfirmed reports that there have been up to 50 French nationals on-board the flight, and France is actively seeking information.
“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.
PlaneFinder Tweeted a map that shows large storm clouds over Burkina Faso. Reuters is reporting, citing a diplomat in West Africa, that there may have been a large storm in the area about the same time the plane disappeared.