Wreckage of Air Algerie flight spotted
An Air Algerie flight that went missing en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers has crashed, an Algerian aviation official told reporters today.
"I can confirm that it has crashed," the official said, declining to give details of where the plane was or what caused the accident.
Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said that the wreckage of the missing flight had been spotted in his country's desert north.
"I have just been informed that the wreckage has been found between Aguelhoc and Kidal," Keita said during a meeting of political, religious and civil society leaders in Bamako. He did not give any more details.
Authorities had lost contact with an Air Algerie flight en route from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers with 110 passengers and six crew on board.
Spanish private airline company Swiftair confirmed it had no contact with its MD-83 aircraft operated by Air Algerie.
The company said in a notice posted on its website that the aircraft took off from Burkina Faso at 0117 GMT and was supposed to land in Algiers at 0510 GMT but never reached its destination.
An Algerian aviation official said the last contact Algerian authorities had with a missing Air Algerie aircraft carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algiers was at 0155 GMT when it was flying over Gao, Mali.
Aviation authorities in Burkina say they handed the flight to the control tower in Niamey, Niger, at 1:38 am. They said last contact with the flight was just after 4:30 a.m.
Burkinabe authorities have set up a crisis unit in Ouagadougou airport to provide information to families of people on the flight.
A diplomat in the Malian capital Bamako said that the north of the country - which lies on the plane's likely flight path - was struck by a powerful sandstorm overnight.
Issa Saly Maiga, head of Mali's National Civil Aviation Agency, said that a search was under way for the missing flight.
"We do not know if the plane is Malian territory," he said. "Aviation authorities are mobilised in all the countries concerned - Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria and even Spain."
Whatever is the fate of the flight, the loss of contact is likely to add the to jitters in the airline industry after a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed over Ukraine last week, a TransAsia Airways crashed off Taiwan during a thunderstorm on Wednesday and airlines cancelled flights into Tel Aviv due to the conflict in Gaza.