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An Air Algerie flight from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso disappeared while flying to Algeria, crossing the Sahara desert on its way north. Officials are now saying that the plane, which had 116 people onboard, did crash.
Flight AH 5017 was only in the air for 50 minutes before contact was lost Wednesday night, Eastern time. Air Algerie said that there were 50 French citizens among the passengers, as that flight route is frequently used by French travelers, notes The BBC. A control tower in Niger had tried to warn the plane about stormy weather in the region.
A French defense ministry official told Fox News that the plane crashed in Mali and French fighter jets spotted the wreckage near the city of Gao.
While there is an ongoing conflict in Mali between separatist groups and the government, it is not believed that the plane was struck by any weapons. A French official told the AP that the rebels are not believed to have the kind of high-tech weaponry to bring down a commercial airliner.
According to CNN, the airline does have several crashes on its record, including a 2003 incident in which 102 people were killed shortly after takeoff.