Passenger plane carrying 116 ‘crashed’ after route change over West Africa

A passenger jet which vanished from radar over northern Mali in West Africa has crashed, says an Algerian aviation official. Two French fighter jets are searching for the Air Algerie plane which was carrying 110 passengers and six crew. The plane was travelling from Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou to the Algerian capital Algiers when it vanished around 50 minutes into the flight.

Two Mirage 2000 jets based in Africa were dispatched to try to locate the Air Algerie plane. They will search an area from its last known location along its probable route.

French army spokesman

The pilot asked for permission to change route because of a sand storm around 20 minutes into the flight, said Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedrago. He said among the plane’s passenger list were 51 French citizens, 27 Burkina Faso nationals, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians and four Germans. The six crew members were Spanish, according to the Spanish pilots’ union. Flight AH5017 is owned by Spanish private airline Swiftair and operated by Air Algerie. A senior French official said it is unlikely that fighters in Mali could shoot down a plane.