Air Algérie Flight
Statement to the press by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (excerpts)
Paris, July 28 2014
Ladies and gentlemen,
This morning, all flags on our country’s public buildings were flown at half mast. They will be like that for three days, in accordance with the President’s decision, in tribute to the victims of the Air Algérie flight AH5017 air disaster.
The decision was announced on Saturday afternoon, here at the Quai d’Orsay, to loved-ones (there were over 150) of the 54 French people killed in the disaster. (...)
Firstly, the investigation: it is progressing, under the authority of the country in charge of it under the international conventions, i.e. Mali, and in close coordination with Algeria.
Our priority was to secure the site and establish a logistical base at the actual scene of the disaster, and not a great distance away. This has now been done.
As we speak to you now, 170 French soldiers are being deployed at the disaster site. There will be 200 of them this evening, accompanied by Malian forces and troops from the United Nations force in Mali.
The experts in charge of the investigation and identifying the victims arrived at the scene on Saturday, during the day. As regards French experts, there are 22: staff from the BEA (1), Gendarmerie des transports aériens [Air Transport Gendarmerie] and national disaster victim identification unit. This international team also has three Malian experts, 10 experts from Spain (where the plane and crew were from) and around 15 Algerian experts. They will be joined by American experts, since the United States built the plane.
This morning, at 6.45 a.m., the aircraft’s two black boxes arrived at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle aerodrome from Bamako. These black boxes were handed to our ambassador in Mali yesterday, in accordance with the decision by Timbuktu’s state prosecutor and with the permission of the Malian Chairman of the investigation committee. Analysis of the flight recorders can now begin in the BEA’s laboratories, in coordination with the authorities concerned, beginning with Algeria and Mali.
The French, Algerian and Malian experts have also started recovering the victims’ remains at the site. This is being done, as you know, in extremely tough conditions because the remains were “pulverized”, the heat is oppressive with, moreover, rain and the extremely difficult situation regarding communications and transport. However, it’s an absolute priority. (...)
Everything possible will be done so that the victims’ bodies can be identified, but this, I repeat, will be a long, meticulous and extremely complex job.
As regards the causes of the disaster, it is too early to provide any certainties. Every hypothesis will be examined as part of the investigation. What we do know for certain is that the weather was bad that night, the plane’s crew had asked to divert, then turn back, prior to contact being lost, and the [crash] site is relatively small, covering around 300 metres, and strewn with small pieces of debris. (...)
In the next few hours, a coordinator, M. Pierre-Jean Vandoorne, will be officially appointed by the Prime Minister to provide the [victims’] families with all aspects of assistance. This experienced diplomat – he already has wide experience of this type of mission (he performed a similar function for the families of the victims of the Air France Rio-
Paris flight) – will be supported by a senior civil aviation official, M. Aubas. (...)
So, ladies and gentlemen, the black boxes are now being examined by the BEA, the site has been secured, the investigators are at work, the recovery of the bodies is under way, the international authorities are involved, the coordination team has been chosen and the various commitments made are being fully respected. (...).
(1) Bureau d’enquêtes et d’analyses – French authority responsible for safety investigations into civil aviation
Telephone conversation with the Prime Minister of Australia – Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic
Paris, 27 July 2014
The President spoke to Mr Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, today, Sunday. Mr Abbott expressed his condolences to the Head of State following the tragedy which struck Air Algérie flight AH5017, killing 54 French people.
The Australian Prime Minister also talked to the President about the efforts under way to find out the truth about the attack in Ukraine on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
The Head of State said that we would continue our cooperation with Australia and the rest of the international community, so that the investigation decided by the United Nations allows responsibility for this terrorist act to be established and all the appropriate conclusions
to be drawn from this.
Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
Paris, July 25 2014
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Air Algérie plane, on board which 51 of our compatriots were travelling, was found last night in Gossi, eastern Mali, at the border with Burkina Faso.
The French soldiers already on the ground have secured the area and begun initial investigations. There are sadly no survivors. I share the pain of the families, who are going through a terrible ordeal. There will be a meeting for them tomorrow at the Quai d’Orsay so that they can be given all the information, which they are entitled to, and the nation’s fraternal support.
The inquiry into the causes of this tragedy is under way. A black box has already been recovered. It is being taken to Gao and will therefore be examined in the shortest possible time. Experts from the Ministry of Transport’s Accident Investigation Bureau have also been sent over there and will conduct all the necessary investigations.
What we already know is that the debris from the plane is concentrated in a limited area, but it is still too early to draw conclusions. These will come. There are hypotheses, particularly to do with the weather, but we aren’t ruling out any others, because we want to know everything about what happened.
The government is mobilized as regards this tragedy. All the ministers concerned are at work and there will be a press conference this afternoon at the Foreign Ministry to provide any further information.
The victims, the families, the 118 victims of this appalling tragedy and their families, are in all my thoughts at this time. Our thoughts go to the victims, their close friends and families; we are at their side. Thank you.
Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic
Paris, July 25 2014
The wreckage of the Air Algérie plane which disappeared on Thursday was located in the Gossi region of Mali last night, near the border with Burkina Faso.
The aircraft was clearly identified despite its disintegrated state.
A French military detachment has been dispatched on the ground to secure the site and gather the first pieces of information.
The President assures the victims’ families and close friends of his wholehearted solidarity.
Press briefing given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesman
Paris, July 25 2014
We were deeply shocked to learn of the tragedy that struck our compatriots travelling on board Air Algérie Flight AH5017; since then, all the state services have been mobilized to locate the aircraft, fully investigate the events, and provide assistance to the families of the
M. Laurent Fabius immediately instructed all Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development departments, notably the crisis centre and our embassies in Algeria, Burkina Faso and Mali, to contribute in every possible way to this effort.
The crisis centre in Paris is mobilized around the clock to provide assistance to the families of the passengers and to gather information about the tragedy:
an emergency hotline was immediately set up: 01 43 17 56 46. It has received almost 5,000 calls;
all the families of our compatriots travelling on the aircraft have been contacted;
more than 20 personnel have been working round-the-clock shifts at the crisis centre since yesterday. They are being supported by Ministry of Defence and Ministry of the Interior staff, as well experts from the Directorate-General for Civil Aviation. Twenty volunteers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development are helping to man the hotline;
two doctors, a psychologist and three officials from the Ministry of Health are providing their full support to the victims’ families;
we are in contact with more than 10 prefectures in order to lend as much local support as possible to the victims’ families.
Our ambassadors in Algiers, Bamako and Ouagadougou are mobilized and are in continuous contact with the local authorities. The French embassies in Ouagadougou and Bamako have set up telephone hotlines.
M. Laurent Fabius will provide an update on this tragedy today at 3.00 p.m. at the Quai d’Orsay, together with M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence, and M. Frédéric Cuvillier, Minister of State for Transport. (...).
Statement to the press by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
Paris, July 24 2014
As I speak to you now, this is the precise information we have:
Air Algérie flight AH5017 left Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) for Algiers shortly before one o’clock this morning.
Contact was lost with the plane, a McDonnell Douglas 83, at 1.47 a.m., shortly after the crew indicated that it had to leave its route due to meteorological reasons. It is likely that the aircraft at that moment was flying over Malian airspace.
Despite intensive searches, no trace of the aircraft has yet been found. The plane has probably crashed. Searches are focusing at this stage on a vast area of Malian territory, around the Gao region.
According to the latest information sent to us by the Burkinabé government, 51 French people were on board. My Algerian colleague, whom I have just spoken to, is talking about around 50 French people, i.e. nearly half the passengers on board, as well as 14 other nationalities, including the Spanish crew.
As always when there is an accident abroad, the Quai d’Orsay’s crisis unit was immediately activated. It ensures coordination between all the ministries. We have already dealt with over 1,000 calls. People with family members on the passenger list which was handed to us by the Burkinabé authorities are being informed.
Our embassies in Ouagadougou, Algiers and Bamako have set up
The Ministry of Defence is deploying its assets in the region to locate traces of the aircraft. The Algerians and United Nations forces are doing the same. Two Mirage 2000s based in Niamey have been carrying out reconnaissance flights since this morning. Our military assets in the region, including medical ones, are mobilized.
Reception teams for the families of passengers whose final destination was France (Paris-CDG and Orly, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse) have been put in place. They are being staffed by Interior Ministry and ADP [Aéroports de Paris] officials. Prefectures in our compatriots’ final destinations have been put on alert.
The President, Prime Minister and Minister of State for Transport have moved into action.
Fleur Pellerin, Minister of State responsible for French Nationals Abroad, is immediately going to the region to be in contact with the families and Burkinabé government.
The President will hold a meeting at 5.00 p.m. with the members of the government concerned.
If this disaster is confirmed, it is a major tragedy hitting the whole nation and many others. We stand alongside the families affected by this tragic incident, as we do with all those very many who have recently been plunged into mourning.