Zee Media Bureau
Algiers: An Air Algerie flight that had taken off from Burkina Faso`s capital Ouagadougou to Algiers crashed on Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali. The flight`s wreckage was found near the border of neighbouring Burkina Faso.
The plane which had French nationals comprising almost half of the 110 passengers aboard, "probably" crashed, French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said.
"Despite intensive search efforts no trace of the aircraft has yet been found. The plane probably crashed," Fabius was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
"If the disaster is confirmed, it is a major tragedy that hits our nation," he added, IANS reported.
On Twitter, the Algerian airline said: "The AH5017 plane would have crashed in the region of Tilemsi, 70 km from Gao (northern Mali)."
FLASH INFOS : AH5017 L'avion se serait crashé à Tilemsi. L'avion se serait crashé dans la région de Tilemsi, à 70km de Gao.
— Air Algérie (@Air_Algerie) July 24, 2014
Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) lost contact with the plane at 0155 GMT, 50 minutes after it took to the skies at 0117 local time and was supposed to land in Algiers at 0510 local time but never reached its destination.
Reports said that Flight AH5017 was operated by Spanish airline Swiftair for Air Algerie. The plane was a McDonnell Douglas MD83.
Air Algerie is the national carrier of Algeria which flies the four-hour passenger route four times a week..
News agency AFP quoted a source in the airline saying that contact with the flight was lost while it was still in Malian airspace approaching the border with Algeria.
"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 source said. "Contact was lost after the change of course."
The airline said it also had 24 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, six Spanish, five Canadians, four Germans and two Luxembourg nationals on board.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal was cited as saying by Algerian radio, "The plane disappeared at Gao (in Mali), 500 kilometres (300 miles) from the Algerian border. Several nationalities are among the victims," PTI reported.
With Agency inputs