News World Plane ‘fell from sky’
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Plane ‘fell from sky’

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Just one week after 298 people were killed in the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 disaster, and one day after 51 people died in a tragic plane crash in Taiwan, yet another passenger aircraft has crashed.

AAP

Algerian officials have confirmed an Air Algerie plane with about 116 people on board including French and Spanish nationals has crashed during a flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers.

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The plane was seen “falling” in northern Mali, the head of the emergency investigation into the flight said.

“A witness informed us they had seen the plane falling at 0150 (GMT( (11:50am AEST),” said General Gilbert Diendiere, coordinator of the crisis unit established in Ouagadougou to try and find the jet.

“We are in contact with the witness and we intend to survey the site” to verify the information, he added.

“We believe this information is accurate as we have compared it to radar images showing the flight path until the plane disappeared,” Gen. Diendiere said.

The wreckage was found in Mali near the Burkina Faso border, an army coordinator in Ouagadougou said.

“We have found the Algerian plane. The wreck has been located,” General Gilbert Diendiere of the Burkina Faso army said.

He said the wreckage had been found 50km north of the Burkina Faso border in the Malian region of Gossi.

Flight AH5017, which originated in Ouagadougou and was bound for Algiers, went missing in the early morning amid reports of heavy storms, company sources and officials said.

“The plane disappeared at Gao, 500 kilometres from the Algerian border. Several nationalities are among the victims,” Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal was earlier cited as saying by Algerian radio.

Air Algerie said it had 50 French, 24 from Burkino Faso, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, six Spanish, five Canadians, four Germans and two Luxembourg nationals 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”.

Fabius said there were 51 French on board.

Its six-member crew were all Spanish, said Spain’s airline pilots’ union Sepla, while Swiftair confirmed the aircraft had gone missing less than an hour after take-off from Ouagadougou.

“Contact was lost after the change of course.”

Earlier reports had said the plane was a DC-9.

20140724001001252685-original
An aerial shot of Gao in northern Mali, near where the plane is thought to have gone down. Photo: AAP

“The plane disappeared at Gao (in Mali), 500 kilometres from the Algerian border. Several nationalities are among the victims,” Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal was cited as saying by Algerian radio.

The Air Algerie source earlier said contact was lost while the airliner was still in Malian airspace and approaching the border with Algeria.

Despite international military intervention still under way, the situation remains unstable in northern Mali, which was seized by jihadist groups for several months in 2012.

On July 17, the Bamako government and armed groups from northern Mali launched tough talks in Algiers aimed at securing an elusive peace deal, and with parts of the country still mired in conflict.

“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 airline source said.

“Contact was lost after the change of course.”

Air Algerie said it had 50 French, 24 from Burkino Faso, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, six Spanish, five Canadians, four Germans and two Luxembourg nationals 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”.

The carrier, in a statement carried by national news agency APS, said it initiated an “emergency plan” in the search for flight AH5017, which flies the four-hour passenger route four times a week.

20140724001001230962-originalOne of Algeria’s worst air disasters occurred in February this year, when a C-130 military aircraft carrying 78 people crashed in poor weather in the mountainous northeast, killing more than 70 people.

The plane was flying from the desert garrison town of Tamanrasset in Algeria’s deep south to Constantine, 320 kilometres east of Algiers.

Tamanrasset was the site of the country’s worst ever civilian air disaster, in March 2003.

In that accident, all but one of 103 people on board were killed when an Air Algerie passenger plane crashed on take-off after one of its engines caught fire.

The sole survivor, a young Algerian soldier, was critically injured.

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