26 July 2014

Mali: UN Experts Find Second Air Algerie Black Box in Mali

UN experts have found the second black box of an Air Algerie plane that crashed in northern Mali, killing 118 people, nearly half of whom were French. Three days of national mourning have been declared in France.

The UN peacekeeping missing in Mali said in a statement on Saturday that its experts had located the second black box of the doomed airliner. The Air Algerie jet was flying from the Burkina Faso capital Ougadougou to Algiers, Algeria when it went down in a remote part of northern Mali.

The first black box was recovered on Friday by French soldiers at the crash site in Gossi, near the Burkina Faso border, French President Francois Hollande said.

No one survived the crash of the McDonnell Douglas 83 plane, which went down around 50 minutes after takeoff.

French and Algerian officials have said bad weather was the most likely cause of the disaster.

Period of mourning in France

There were 51 French citizens aboard the flight, along with passengers from Burkina Faso, Lebanon, Canada, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The plane was operated by a six-person Spanish crew. The aircraft was operated by Spanish charter firm Swiftair on behalf of Air Algerie.

A government helicopter on Saturday flew family members from France, Lebanon and Burkina Faso over the crash site to view the disaster. They were accompanied by a psychologist.

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore met with victims' families on Saturday, as did Hollande in Paris.

French officials declared a three-day period of mourning in the country, the presidency said. Flags will fly at half-mast on every public building.

Algeria has sent an official delegation, led by Transport Minsiter Amar Ghoule, to Mali to aid in the investigation, according to Algerian media.

"We send a message of condolences, sympathy, solidarity and availability to the people of Burkina Faso," Ghoule told reporters.

Remote crash site

Officials already in the remote, barren area of the crash said they saw twisted and burned plane fragments.

"It is difficult to retrieve anything, even victims' bodies, because we have only seen body parts on the ground," said General Gilbert Diendiere, chief of the military staff of Burkina Faso's presidency. He was member of a delegation sent to the crash site.

Diendere said the force of the crash appeared to be so violent that it was difficult to identify parts of the plane.

"Debris was scattered over an area of 500 meters (yards) which is do the fact that the plane hit the ground then probably rebounded," he said.

dr/slk (AP, dpa, AFP)

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