The MD-83 owned by Swiftair lost in Mali while conducting a flight for Air Algerie (Magnus Manske)

The MD-83 owned by Swiftair lost in Mali while conducting a flight for Air Algerie (Magnus Manske)

A Air Algerie McDonnell Douglas MD-83 with 116 people on board reportedly crashed over Mali while conducting a overnight flight between Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou and Algiers, the capital of Algeria. The aircraft had departed Ouagadougou at 1:17 am local time (GMT) on Thursday July 24th 2014, heading straight north towards Mali on the way to Algeria where it would reach its termination point at 4:10 am local time (also GMT). But instead Flight AH5017 disappeared from air traffic radar controllers only 50 minutes after take off. The aircraft which was owned and operated by Spanish carrier Swiftair was staffed by 4 flight attendants and 2 pilots all Spanish nationals. The three times weekly flight is said to have been inducted into Air Algerie fleet rotation as part of a Wet Lease arrangement put in effect only a month ago. Air traffic officials from Burkina Faso claim that the aircraft seemingly encountered very bad weather 20 minutes after being in route while nearing Malian airspace. This prompted the pilot to request an alternate route. Soon after, radar and radio contact were lost. Local residents in Mali have pointed out that powerful sand storms had been in effect over parts of Mali at the time. Unconfirmed reports from the government of Mali suggest that the MD-83 wreckage have been located near the town of Gao. Preliminary analysis of passengers manifest provided by Air Algerie identified 51 passengers from France, 26 from Burkina Faso, 20 from Lebanon, 7 from Algeria, 5 from Canada, 4 from Germany, 2 from Luxembourg along with 1 each from Cameroon, Mali, Belgium, Nigeria, Egypt, Switzerland… For now search for the aircraft is continuing feverishly with a good number personnel on the ground but also at least one patrol aircraft provided by the Algerian People’s Air Force and 2 French Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter jets based in Mali as part of a UN-mandated military force monitoring fighting between the Malian army and Touareg tribe’s separatists. This air crash has taken place at a difficult time for air travel, only a day after 48 people died in Taiwan when the ATR-72 they were traveling crashed while landing and one week after Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER Flight MH17 was shot down while overflying Ukraine presumably by Ukrainian separatists killing 298 on board.

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