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AKIPRESS.COM - French warplanes and U.N. helicopters scoured the north of Mali on Thursday for the wreckage of an Air Algerie flight after it crashed carrying 110 passengers, nearly half of them French, from Burkina Faso to Algiers, Reuters reports Friday.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said authorities believed flight AH5017 may have encountered bad weather after the pilot requested to change direction shortly after takeoff due to a storm. However, he said no hypothesis had been excluded.
Officials in Mali and Burkina Faso gave conflicting accounts of locating the crash.
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said wreckage of the flight had been spotted in his country's far north, toward the Algerian border between the towns of Aguelhoc and Kidal.
However, General Gilbert Diendere, a member of the crisis unit in Burkina Faso, said his team had found remains in southern Mali, 50 km (30 miles) from the Burkinabe border. Local authorities in the nearby town of Gossi also told Reuters the wreckage had been located here.
In Paris, Fabius said the flight, carrying 51 French nationals, had probably crashed but he said two French Mirage warplanes searching the vast desert area around the northern Malian city of Gao had spotted no wreckage.
"Despite intensive search efforts, no trace of the aircraft has yet been found," Fabius told journalists.
An Algerian official, who asked not to be identified, confirmed the flight had crashed but provided no other details.
French President Francois Hollande cancelled a planned visit to overseas territories and said France -- which has some 1,700 troops stationed in Mali -- would use all military means on the ground to locate the aircraft.