Air Algerie AH5017: Hollande vows to bring bodies to France

Francois Hollande has promised that the bodies of those who died on Air Algerie AH5017 will be returned to France.

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France's president has promised that the bodies of 118 people who died when an Air Algerie plane crashed in Mali will be brought to France.

Francois Hollande was speaking after he met victims' families in Paris. Fifty-four French nationals were on board flight AH5017. There were no survivors.

The plane was flying from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital, to Algiers.

Earlier, UN search teams scouring the remote site found the second flight data recorder from the plane.

Three days of national mourning are to be observed across France from Monday, Mr Hollande's office said.

Among the French contingent on board flight AH5017 was a family of 10.

Algeria is already observing three days of mourning for the crash.

Mr Hollande said a memorial would be erected at the site and that those families who wished to do so would be able to visit the site.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane early on Thursday after pilots reported severe sandstorms.

Tomasz Schafernaker: "Thunderstorms stretching up to 15km into the air can cause turbulence, icing on the wings and lightning"

The plane, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, had been chartered from Spanish airline Swiftair.

It was flying from Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, to Algiers.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told French radio network RTL on Friday that "the aircraft was destroyed at the moment it crashed".

"We think the aircraft crashed for reasons linked to the weather conditions, although no theory can be excluded at this point," he said.

Contact with flight AH 5017 was lost about 50 minutes after take-off from Ouagadougou early on Thursday morning, Air Algerie said.

The pilot had contacted Niger's control tower in Niamey at around 01:30 GMT to change course because of a sandstorm, officials say.

McDonnell Douglas MD-83
The MD883 Swiftair plane that crashed in Mali (file pic)
  • Twin rear-engine, short-medium range airliner
  • More powerful version of the MD-80 type, based on earlier DC-9
  • Range: 4,637km (2,881 miles)
  • Capacity: 172 passengers
  • First flew: 1984
location of missing plane
Passenger origin

Burkina Faso: 27 passengers

France: 54

Lebanon: 8

Algeria: 6

Luxembourg: 2

Canada: 5

Germany: 4

Belgium, Egypt, Ukraine, Switzerland, Nigeria, Mali, UK: 1

Figures released by Burkina Faso authorities

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