THE WRECKAGE OF an Air Algerie plane missing since early Thursday with 116 people on board has been found in Mali near the Burkina Faso border, an army coordinator in Burkina Faso and the French presidency said.
“We have found the Algerian plane. The wreck has been located … 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the Burkina Faso border” in the Malian region of Gossi, said General Gilbert Diendiere of the Burkina Faso army.
“At the moment we have no further information on (the fate of) the passengers but our teams are hard at work,” he said.
Diendiere gave no indication as to what may have caused the plane to crash.
The French president’s office said Friday the jet was clearly identified even though it had “disintegrated”.
A “French military unit has been sent to (the area) to secure the site and gather evidence”, it added in a statement.
President Francois Hollande expressed his solidarity with the families and friends of the victims.
Flight AH5017, which took off from Ouagadougou bound for Algiers with 51 French nationals aboard according to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, went missing amid reports of heavy storms, company sources and officials said.
A controller in Mali, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the area was rocked by “strong storms” overnight.
Air Algerie, in a statement carried by national news agency APS, said it had initiated an “emergency plan” in the search for AH5017, which flies the four-hour passenger route four times a week.
In Cuba, the daughter of President Raul Castro assured journalists she was alive and well, contradicting reports that she had been onboard the doomed flight.
Mariela Castro, a sexologist and gay rights activist, said she had been told there was another passenger of the same name aboard flight AH5017.