Bad weather likely cause of fatal Air Algerie crash – French officials

2014-07-25 12:52

Paris – Poor weather was the most likely cause of the crash of an Air Algerie flight in the west African state of Mali that killed all 116 people on board, French officials said.

Investigators at the scene of the crash in northern Mali concluded the airliner broke apart when it hit the ground, the officials said, suggesting this meant it was unlikely to have been the victim of an attack.

“French soldiers who are on the ground have started the first investigations. Sadly, there are no survivors,” French President François Hollande told reporters.

A column of 100 soldiers and 30 vehicles from the French force stationed in the region arrived early this morning to secure the crash site near the northern Mali town of Gossi and recover bodies, a defence ministry official said.

Hollande said one of the black box flight recorders had already been recovered and would be analysed quickly.

“The plane’s debris is concentrated in a small area, but it is too early to draw conclusions,” Hollande said of the wreckage of the plane carrying 51 French nationals that crashed near the border with Burkina Faso, from where it had taken off.

“The are theories, especially the weather, but I’m not excluding any theory.”

Aviation officials lost contact of flight AH5017 yesterday, less than an hour after it took off for Algeria, following a request by the pilot to change course due to bad weather.

“The aircraft was destroyed at the moment it crashed,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio.

Another plane crash is likely to add to nerves over flying a week after a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed over Ukraine, and a TransAsia Airways plane crashed off Taiwan during a thunderstorm on Wednesday.

International airlines also temporarily cancelled flights into Tel Aviv this week, citing security concerns amid the instability in Gaza.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was due to visit the crash site later today.

Spanish private airline company Swiftair, which owned the plane, said the six crew were Spanish. It confirmed today that the wreckage of the plane had been found in Mali without survivors, adding it was too early to talk about the causes of the accident.

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