Air Algérie flight
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 hotlines.
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./.