Tags: Algeria | airliner | Mali

Air Algerie Jet With 116 People Vanishes En Route to Algiers

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 09:57 AM

An Air Algerie-operated MD-83 carrying 116 peole disappeared en route from Burkina Faso in Africa to Algiers and has probably crashed in Mali, marking the third major civil-aviation incident in a week.

The plane, which took off in the west African country shortly after midnight carrying 110 passengers and six crew, was supposed to land at 5:10 a.m. local time, Swiftair, a charter company based in Spain, said in a statement today. An Air Algerie official said the aircraft’s most likely fate is that it has crashed.

“There has been no contact with the plane until now,” Swiftair said. “Emergency teams and the company’s personnel are working to figure out what happened and will notify people as further information is available.” Algeria’s transport minister is slated to hold a briefing at the airport later today.

The probable loss of the passenger plane over Africa follows the downing of a Malaysian Air Boeing Co. 777 wide-body over eastern Ukraine on July 17 following a suspected missile strike, killing all 298 people on board. Yesterday, an ATR-72 turbo-prop crash on the Penghu Islands in Taiwan left 48 people dead.

Fifty French citizens are aboard and 24 people from Burkina Faso, Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo told reporters in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso.

French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier is holding a crisis meeting and the government is working on getting information on the nationalities of the passengers on board the missing flight. Other nationalities include Algerians, Lebanese, Swiss and Belgians, he said.

The aircraft asked the control tower in Niamey, Niger to divert its flight because of a storm about 40 minutes after taking off, Ouedraogo said, without saying where he got the information. Air Algerie is unaware of the plane’s current location, representative Mounir Kara Terki said, adding that Algeria’s Shar forces have been sent to Niger to investigate.

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalekk Sellal said on state radio that the jet lost contact over Gao, Mali, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the Algerian border. The airport in Algiers is in a state of crisis, he said.

Few people live in the area where the plane may have crashed and the weather was poor overnight, UN troop leader Brigadier General Koko Essien told the BBC.

Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali share a border in the southern Sahel, a semi-arid zone below the Sahara desert that is sparsely populated and with few roads. The Sahel stretches more than 5,400 kilometers across Africa from Senegal in the west to Sudan in the east.

Algeria borders Niger and northern Mali, where Islamist militants and ethnic Tuareg separatists operate. Mali’s government is in peace talks with Tuareg separatists after two years of sporadic fighting. French President Francois Hollande sent troops in 2013 to quash an invasion by Islamist militants trying to enter Bamako, the capital.

MD-83 planes belong to a family of twin-engine, short- to medium-range, single-aisle commercial airliners that were introduced in 1980. They were built by McDonnell Douglas Corp., acquired by Boeing Co. in 1997. Boeing had no immediate comment.

Other incidents involving the model include the loss of an Alaska Airlines flight over the Pacific ocean in 2000, caused by inadequate maintenance, which killed all 88 people on board. In 2012, a Dana Airlines flight from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, crashed into the heavily populated Agege suburb of Lagos killing 153 people on board and 10 on the ground.

Swiftair, a private company created in 1986, has more than 400 employees and has a fleet of more than 30 planes, which include models such as the Boeing 727 and 737, MD-83, ATR-72/-42, Embraer 120 and Metroliner, according to its website. Customers listed on the site include Fedex Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., and the company also services corporate clients and tour operators.

While only one western-built jet hull was lost in Africa last year, the continent’s safety record is still worse than anywhere else in the world, according to the International Air Transport Organization. There were 7.45 accidents per million in Africa in 2013, compared with a global rate of once accident for every 2.4 million flights, IATA said in April.

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Africa
An Air Algerie-operated MD-83 carrying 116 peole disappeared en route from Burkina Faso in Africa to Algiers and has probably crashed in Mali, marking the third major civil-aviation incident in a week.
Algeria, airliner, Mali
692
2014-57-24
Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 09:57 AM
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