Published on 24 Jul 2014 Sections ,

Did this storm bring down Air Algerie flight 5017?

Air Algerie flight 5017 crashes on its way from Burkina Faso to Algiers, with 116 people on board including 51 French nationals.

Did this storm bring down Air Algerie flight 5017? (Picture: Eumetsat)

Flight AH5017 from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers has crashed, it has been confirmed by Algerian officials.

Spanish private airline company Swiftair said earlier it had lost contact with the plane operated by Air Algerie “50 minutes after take-off”.

The company said in a notice posted on its website that the aircraft took off at 1.17am, local time, and was supposed to land in Algiers at 5.10am, local time, but never reached its destination.

It is believed contact with the flight was lost while it was still in Malian airspace approaching the border with Algeria.

The plane’s original route took it over desert areas where Islamic militant groups are active – but the fighters are not known to possess the kind of weapons that could hit a passenger plane at cruising altitude.

Storm

Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedragor said the flight had been asked to change route because of a storm, half an hour after its departure.

Satellite imagery from Eumetsat clearly shows a large storm in the flight’s path at the time of the apparent diversion.

The weather may have forced the aircraft to re-route over a remote uninhabited mountainous region of Mali.

The Air Safety Network reported the plane’s fate as “presumed damaged beyond repair”.

A statement from Swiftair read: “Swiftair informs that an MD83 of this company, operated by Air Algerie, took off from Burkina Faso at 0117 Z for Algiers and expected arrival time 0510 Z but has not reached its destination. Until now there has been no contact with the aircraft.

“At this moment, emergency equipment and personnel of the company are working to find out what happened and as we get more details about what happened we will issue new releases.”

There are 110 passengers and six crew members on board.

France’s transport minister said 51 people on board were French nationals.

Two French fighter jets based in the region were sent to search for the aircraft but have so far failed to locate it.