27 July 2014

Algeria: Air Algérie Crash Bodies to Be Brought to France, Hollande

All the bodies of passengers on Air Algérie flight AH5017 are to be brought to France, President François Hollande announced after meeting families of the 54 French victims on Saturday. Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaoré met families of Burkinabé families in Ouagadougou.

Flags throughout France will be at half-mast for three days starting Monday in a gesture of mourning for those killed when the plane crashed near Gossi in northern Mali shortly after leaving Ouagadougou for Algiers.

"As soon as possible all the bodies will be brought to France," Hollande said. "I mean all the bodies of passengers on this flight."

The families are owed solidarity, compassion and support but also the truth, the president said as French and UN investigators started examining the site of the accident.

Families in Ouagadougou told RFI they wanted to bury their loved ones.

"Each family that you see in this room desperately hopes to have the remains of their relatives to begin to mourn them," Traoré Alima said.

But that might be difficult, according to Burkina Faso General Gilbert Diendéré.

"I don't think we can reconstitute the bodies," he said. "They have been scattered, dispersed ... let's hope we can at least have the ashes."

Representatives of Burkinabé, Lebanese and French families who have visited the site agreed.

"There's not much to see," one of them, Eugène Somda told RFI. "The wreckage of the plane, small pieces, not much to recognise an airplane. Now I know where my brothers. It's pretty hard. We won't to go and find out but can we live with what we've seen. It's going to be very hard."

The rainy season in the region may also add to the investigators' problems in establishing the cause of the crash.

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