French President confirms no survivors in Air Algerie jet crash, black box found
Zee Media Bureau
Paris: A day after an Air Algerie plane crashed in Mali, French President Francois Hollande announced on Friday that no one survived the crash.
Hollande further said that the plane`s black box flight recorder had been found.
"Sadly, there were no survivors" of flight AH5017 that had 116 people on board, including 51 French nationals, when it went down over northern Mali, Hollande said in televised comments.
French troops on Friday reached the site of the wreckage of the MD-83 aircraft and found one of the black boxes of the jetliner, and sent it to Gao, in the north of Mali, Hollande said.
Earlier in the day, France`s Transport Minister said it was extremely unlikely, and even "out of the question", that any of the 116 people on board the jet had survived.
"Given the state of the plane (wreck), it is very unlikely, even out of the question, that there are any survivors," Frederic Cuvillier said on French television.
In the meantime, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the most likely cause of Thursday`s crash was bad weather conditions, although authorities were not excluding other hypotheses.
"We think that this plane crashed for reasons pertaining to meteorological conditions," he said on RTL radio.
The jet`s Spanish crew had signalled they were altering course due to difficult weather conditions, and company sources and officials said there had been reports of heavy storms at the time.
Cuvillier said the possibility of a strike from the ground had been ruled out "from the start", rejecting speculation that rebels in Mali`s restive north could have shot the plane down. The heartwrenching incident took place days after a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down in Ukraine by pro-Russian rebels killing 298 people.
Earlier in the day, the French President`s office said that the wreckage of the plane has been found in Mali`s Gossi region, not far from the Burkina Faso border.
The jet was clearly identified even though it had "disintegrated".
A statement issued by the presidency confirmed earlier reports from Burkina Faso.
A "French military unit has been sent to (the area) to secure the site and gather evidence".
President Francois Hollande expressed his solidarity with the families and friends of the victims, among them about 50 French nationals.
Air Algerie said flight AH5017 left Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, with more than 110 passengers and a crew of six for Algiers overnight Wednesday.
Radar contact with the McDonnell Douglas 83 was lost 50 minutes into the flight, a little after the pilots said they were diverting from the route due to severe weather.
The passengers included 51 French, 27 Burkina Faso nationals, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two Luxembourg nationals, one Swiss, one Belgian, one Egyptian, one Ukrainian, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian, Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said. The six crew members were Spanish, according to the Spanish pilots` union.
(With Agency inputs)
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