Algerian Official: Missing Plane With 116 People on Board Has Crashed

An Air Algerie plane flying from Burkina Faso to Algeria disappeared from radar last night with 110 passengers and six crew members on board. The plane was likely flying over Mali when it went missing.

Swiftair, which owns the plane, said that flight AH5017 took off at 1:17 am local time and was supposed to land at 5:10. An unnamed Algerian aviation official told Reuters that the flight lost contact at 1:55, flying over Gao, Mali. Burkina Faso air officials, however, said they gave control to a tower in Niger at 1:38 am, and that last contact was at 4:30 am. The Agency France-Presse reports that the plane disappeared when the crew was asked to make a detour. Said an anonymous Air Algerie source:

"The plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route. Contact was lost after the change of course."

Issa Saly Maiga of Mali's National Civil Aviation Agency told Reuters the country is actively searching for the plane:

We do not know if the plane is Malian territory. Aviation authorities are mobilized in all the countries concerned - Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria and even Spain.

A French official told the Associated Press it is unlikely that the plane was shot down, despite Mali's status as a high-risk flight zone.

UPDATE 9:14 am: "I can confirm that it has crashed," an Algerian aviation official told Reuters.