Algiers, July 25:
Wrecks of an Air Algerie flight that went missing earlier Thursday with 116 people onboard has been found in Mali, media reports said.
“We’ve come to know that local residents in the desert area of Goussy in Mali have seen probably wreckage of the missing plane,” state-run APS news agency quoted Algerian Transport Minister Amar Ghoul as saying at a press conference, but the information is “still to be confirmed,” said Xinhua.
Ghoul said emergency units are still working, while all Algerian authorities remain mobilised. Reconnaissance aircrafts of the National People’s Army are still searching for the plane.
“The aircraft had all regulation and technique permission to perform the long distance flight,” the Algerian transport minister said, adding that the aircraft, chartered from the Spanish Swiftair company, served in Algeria for over one month and flown five times on the same course.
Earlier in the day, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told reporters that an aircraft belonging to Algeria’s national airline, Air Algerie, disappeared over the Malian region of Gao, some 500 km southern of the Algerian border, 50 minutes after taking off from Ouagadougou Airport in Burkina Faso.
The plane, which took off from Ouagadougou and was scheduled to arrive in Algiers last appeared on radar while flying over Gao area in Mali, according to Air Algerie.
An earlier statement from the Algerian airline said the missing plane carried 116 passengers, including six crew members of Spanish nationality, 51 French, 24 from Burkina Faso, eight Lebanese, six Canadians, five Germans, four from Luxembourg, two Malians, one Belgian, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian, one Egyptian, one Ukrainian, one Romanian, one from Switzerland, and three still to be verified.
But the Lebanese foreign ministry said late Thursday that 20 Lebanese nationals were onboard.
Air force planes from France and Algeria launched a joint search operation for the missing flight earlier in the day.
Algeria’s neighbour Mali is still grappling with sporadic rebel attacks in its northern area after a military coup led to an armed rebellion that was crushed in 2013 by French and African troops.
Just a week earlier, one of Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777 airliner with 298 people onboard crashed over eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, with no survivors.