No Survivors As Air Algerie Flight AH5017 Crash Site Found In Mali

According to the French Elysée Palace, the flight is now believed to have been carrying 118 people, not 116 as originally reported, to Algiers when it vanished from radar early Thursday. France has said a black box recorder has been found.

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Update – July 25, 11:46 a.m. ET

The wreckage of the Air Algerie flight that disappeared early Thursday over northern Mali has been found. France and Burkina Faso released these photos from the scene of the AH5017 crash site.

While the cause of the crash has yet to be determined, investigators at the scene say the plane disintegrated upon impact and did not break apart in the sky. This suggests the plane wasn't the victim of a terrorist attack.

The French government on Friday revised the number of passengers from 116 to 118. There were no survivors.

Stringer/Germany / Reuters

The MD-83 airplane that crashed on July 24 is seen taking off from Hamburg airport June 15.

The MD-83 jet was initially thought be carrying 116 people when it disappeared about an hour after taking off at 1:17 a.m. from Ouagadougou, the capital of the west African nation Burkina Faso, the Associated Press reports. However, the figure has since been revised to 118 by the French Elysée Presidential Palace, according to France 24.

The plane was en route to Algiers and should have arrived at 5:10 a.m. local time.

Shortly before disappearing, the plane's pilots sent a message to Niger air control about changing their route due to heavy rain.

Weather at time of #AH5017 loss. Storm on flightpath: Clouds all rising above 40,000ft @eumetsat @thatjohn @RAeSTimR

Simon Proud@simon_rp84

Weather at time of #AH5017 loss. Storm on flightpath: Clouds all rising above 40,000ft @eumetsat @thatjohn @RAeSTimR

12:20 PM - 24 Jul 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Searchers discovered the wrecked plane near the border of Burkina Faso and neighboring Mali.

The French government — which deployed warplanes to search for the missing jet — announced Thursday it had located the wreck in Gossi, a region of Mali near the Burkina Faso.

The French Elysée Presidential Palace tweeted a quote from Hollande saying, "Thanks to help from Burkina Faso, and then from our drone, we were able to locate the debris."

#AH5017 : « Gr aux Burkinabés [...] et ensuite à notre drone, l𠆚vion a pu être identifié » http://t.co/ItQGufqNVh

Élysພ@Elysee

#AH5017 : « Gr aux Burkinabés [...] et ensuite à notre drone, l𠆚vion a pu être identifié » http://t.co/ItQGufqNVh

5:11 AM - 25 Jul 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

France sent a military detachment Thursday night to secure the crash site.

The discovery of the missing plane came after a long string of rumors and conflicting reports. Earlier Thursday, Mali president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita told reporters the crash site has been found between the northern villages of Aguelhoc and Kidal. Then later, Burkina Faso Gen. Gilbert Diendéré — who coordinated his government's response — told the New York Times the wrecked plane had been discovered roughly 60 miles south of Gao, Mali.

The Ouagadougou Airport announced Thursday afternoon that the wreckage was located between Gao and Kidal in "a very inaccessible desert area."

Even as the rumors trickled in the French government had vowed to continue its search.

Searchers found no surivors, Diendéré told the New York Times. "Someone saw the plane fall and alerted us, so we sent a mission there that went to the spot. But we couldn't examine the wreck because night was falling."

Malian state TV reported that wreckage also turned up in the village of Boulikessi, according to the AP. Reporters spoke with Sidi Ould Brahim — a Tuareg separatist who traveled in the region Thursday — who said "the plane was burned, there were traces of rain on the plane, and bodies were torn apart."

Swiftair — a Spanish company that was leasing the plane to Air Algerie — released a manifest with the breakdown of nationalities. Nearly half were from France.

One Mali, 1 Belgium, 2 Luxembourg, 5 Canada, 24 Burkina Faso, 50 France, 4 Germany, 1 Nigeria, 1 Cameroon, 8 Lebanon, 1 Egypt, 1 Ukraine, 1 Romania, 1 Switzerland, and 3 pending verification.

Spanish newspaper El Pais says all six of the crew members on board were Spanish.

The large representation of French citizens aboard the plane prompted President Francois Hollande to call an emergency meeting and later deploy the warplanes.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

"The search will take as long as needed," Hollande told reporters. "Everything must be done to find this plane." Later Thursday, Hollande said "everything allows us to believe this plane crashed in Mali."

A senior French official also told the AP Thursday that it is unlikely fighters in the region had weaponry that would be able to take down a commercial plane at cruising altitude.

The region where the plane crashed is a vast desert that has been contested in recent years.

REUTERS

A map of the planes last contact zone, from the Ouagadougou Airport.

The vast desert in the region fell under the control of Tuareg separatists, and later al-Qaida groups, after a 2012 coup. French forces have been in the region since 2013 in an effort to rout al-Qaeda-linked extremists, the AP reports.

Contrary to initial reports, Mariela Castro — niece of Fidel Castro and a prominent LGBT activist — was not on the plane.

Mariela Castro calls Venezuelan TV news channel to say reports of her death has been greatly exaggerated: http://t.co/ioAEtidNuz

J Lester Feder@jlfeder

Mariela Castro calls Venezuelan TV news channel to say reports of her death has been greatly exaggerated: http://t.co/ioAEtidNuz

8:53 AM - 24 Jul 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Mariela Castro is the niece of Fidel Castro. An earlier version of this article said she was his daughter.

Francis Whittaker is a homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Francis Whittaker at francis.whittaker@buzzfeed.com.

Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at jim.dalrymple@buzzfeed.com.

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