OUAGADOUGOU/ALGIERS, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The wreckage of an Air Algerie flight that went missing Thursday with 116 people on board has been found in Mali with no survivors spotted at the site.
The discovery was confirmed Friday by France, which had 51 nationals aboard the ill-fated plane en route from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital Algiers.
A statement issued by the French president's office said the wreckage of flight AH5017 was found in Mali's Gao region, not far from the Burkina Faso border, and "a French military unit has been sent to secure the site and gather evidence."
In earlier news reports, Burkina Faso's crisis committee which claimed to have found the wreckage said the plane had totally burned out and was scattered on the ground, adding remains of dead bodies had also been discovered.
"Sadly, the team saw no one on site. It saw no survivors," said General Gilbert Diendere, a member of the crisis unit in Burkina Faso set up to investigate the crash.
The 116 victims include six Spanish crew members, 51 French, 27 from Burkina Faso, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two Luxembourg nationals, one Swiss, one Belgian, one Egyptian, one Ukrainian, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian, according to a statement from Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo.
The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 plane, owned by Spanish company Swiftair and operated by Air Algerie, disappeared over the Gao region, some 500 km south of the Algerian border, 50 minutes after takeoff from Ouagadougou Airport in Burkina Faso, according to Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal.
The pilots had sent a final message to ask Niger air control to change its route because of heavy rains, said Ouedraogo.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said authorities believed the cause of the crash may have been bad weather, but no hypothesis had been excluded.
Local weather reports show the area the plane was flying through was affected by "violent storms with powerful gusts of wind and an important amount of electrical activity."
Algerian Transport Minister Amar Ghoul said: "The aircraft had all regulation and technique permission to perform the long distance flight," adding that the aircraft had served in Algeria for over one month and had flown five times on the same course.
Algeria has witnessed more than ten plane crashes since its independence in 1962. The last deadliest crash occurred in March 2003, in which 97 passengers died and one survived when an Air Algerie plane crashed moments after taking off from Tamenrasset airport in southern Algeria.
The latest crash is the third major aviation disaster in a week worldwide. On July 17, a Malaysia Airlines' Boeing 777 airliner with 298 people on board crashed over eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, with no survivors. On Wednesday, an ATR-72 aircraft crashed in torrential rain in southwest Taiwan, killing 48 of 58 people on board.
Mali, where the crashed Air Algerie flight is found, has been grappling with sporadic rebel attacks in its northern area since an armed rebellion started by a military coup was crushed in 2013 by French and African troops.
Backgrounder: Major air crashes in recent years
Backgrounder: McDonnell Douglas MD-80s
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