Algeria Friday declared a three-day national morning for the victims of the Air Algerie flight AH 5017 that crashed over Mali the previous day with no survivor yet found from the plane wreckage, media reports said.
The aircraft with 116 passengers and crew on board, operated by Spanish charter firm Swiftair on behalf of Air Algerie, was flying from Burkina Faso to Algeria, but disappeared from the radar 50 minutes after taking off.
Late Thursday, authorities in Algeria, Mali and Burkina Faso confirmed that the plane crashed, as the plane wreckage was found in the area of Gossi, northeast of Mali, near the border with Burkina Faso, Xinhua reported.
An investigation was launched to find out the causes of the crash with the first black box found.
Observers believe that rescue operation and investigations could be hindered due to potential terrorist threat, as Gossi is near the locality of Gao, which is marked by the presence of extremist militants affiliated to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The wreckage of the plane was discovered by French Air Force units stationed in Mali, tasked with fighting militants there, which launched joint reconnaissance operation with Algerian Air Force warplanes.
Meanwhile, Algerian Transport Minister Omar Ghoul told the local TSA news website Friday that he would be travelling to Mali and Burkina Faso, where he would meet top officials in order to collect more information about the tragic crash.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika Friday declared a three-day national mourning in memory of the victims.
“President Abdelaziz Bouteflika declares a national three-day mourning Friday, following the crash of an Air Algerie flight Thursday, which killed 116 passengers of different nationalities, including Algerians,” APS quoted a statement from the President Office as saying.
Earlier Friday, French President Franï¿½ois Hollande confirmed in Paris that none of the 116 people on board had survived the crash, Efe news agency reported.
“There are no survivors,” said Hollande in a brief statement, adding that “it is still too soon to reach conclusions” on the cause of the crash, in which 51 French citizens were believed to have perished.
Although bad weather was cited as the most plausible explanation fr teh crash, Hollande said he did not rule out any hypothesis.
In a statement, the Elysee Palace said the aircraft had been “clearly identified” even though it had “disintegrated”.
“The only certainty we have is the weather alert,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. He added, however, that “no hypothesis can be ruled out” when he was asked about the possibility of a terrorist attack in the area, where jihadis are active.
Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra Friday said armed insurgents in northern Mali were helping rescue efforts and were the first to spot the wreckage and inform authorities.
The insurgents, opposed to the central Malian government in Bamako, “have pledged to deploy all rescue efforts and maintain security on the site”, Lamamra said.
The minister also ruled out a technical failure and said the aircraft had recently passed an inspection in France.
The latest airline tragedy comes after a Malaysia Airlines jetliner was downed over eastern Ukraine last week killing all 298 people on board, and a TransAsia Airways plane crash landed in Taiwan Wednesday in bad weather killing 48.