Air Algerie plane crash: François Hollande confirms ‘no survivors’ as black box is recovered from AH5017

The MD-83 aircraft crashed in Mali with 116 people on board

The French President François Hollande says there are no survivors of the Air Algerie flight AH5017 which crashed in Mali with 116 people on board, including more than 50 French nationals.

Speaking after a crisis meeting, he said: "There are, alas, no survivors. I share the pain of families living through this terrible ordeal."

"There are hypotheses, notably weather-related, but we don't rule out anything because we want to know what happened. What we know is that the debris is concentrated in a limited space, but it is too soon to draw conclusions," he added.

Mr Hollande also announced that one of the aircraft's two black boxes has been found in the wreckage, in the Gossi region near the border with Burkina Faso after a French military unit was dispatched to secure the site and gather evidence. It is being taken to the northern Mali city of Gao.

Earlier, his office confirmed an announcement by officials the plane wreckage has been discovered in Mali, west Africa, saying in a message on its website it had been clearly identified despite the disintegration of the aircraft.

A French Reaper drone based in Niger spotted the wreckage, French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier told France-Info radio on Friday. Two helicopter teams also overflew, noting that the wreckage was in a concentrated area. A column of soldiers in some 30 vehicles were dispatched to the site, he said.

Video: Wreckage of flight discovered
Read more: Wreckage found in Mali as hopes fade for 116 passengers
FRANCE AND UN SEARCH FOR WRECKAGE OF 'CRASHED' JET

French investigators have now concluded the flight broke apart when it hit the ground, the Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio. 

The passenger plane was found about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the border of Burkina Faso, according to Burkina Faso authorities.

The plane, chartered by Spanish company Swiftair and operated by Algeria's flagship carrier, disappeared from radar 50 minutes after it took off from Burkina Faso's capital of Ouagadougou at 1.17 GMT on Thursday. It was bound for Algiers in Algeria and was due to arrive at 5.10 GMT.

Swiftair, a private Spanish airline, said the plane was carrying 110 passengers and six crew.

Aviation officials lost contact with the plane at 1.55am GMT, shortly after its pilots contacted Niger's control tower in Niamey and requested to change course due to reported storms.

French Mirage fighter jets, UN peacekeepers and teams hunted for the wreckage of the MD-83 in the remote region.

The passengers were 51 French, 27 Burkina Faso nationals, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two Luxembourg nationals, one Swiss, one Belgian, one Egyptian, one Ukrainian, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian, Ouedraogo said. The six crew members were Spanish, according to the Spanish pilots' union.

Additional reporting by agencies

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