TIME Algeria

Air Algeria Flight Disappears Over Mali With Over 110 Aboard

Many details remain unclear.

Air Algeria said Thursday it lost contact during the night with an Algiers-bound flight from Burkina Faso carrying more than 110 people.

The Algerian national airliner said in a statement to the Algerian news agency APS that the flight, AH5017, took off from Ouagadougou at 1:17 a.m. GMT and was supposed to land in Algiers at 5:11. But the airline lost contact with the plane less than 50 minutes into the flight, though the exact timing remains unclear amid differing reports.

“In keeping with procedures, Air Algerie has launched its emergency plan,” the airline said.

The airline said the plane was carrying 119 passengers and 7 crewmembers, some of whom were of Spanish nationality, though another report provides a slightly different number. In a separate statement, Swiftair, the Spanish private airline company that owns the plane, said that the plane was carrying 116 people, including 110 passengers and 6 crewmembers. Swiftair said the plane was an MD-83 operated by Air Algeria.

The plane is believed to have disappeared in rough weather over Mali, where an international military intervention is being staged against Islamic extremists in the north of the country. United Nations troops on the ground say they understand the plane disappeared in northeastern Mali, BBC reports. According to Reuters, the French military has dispatched two fighter jets to search for the plane.

On Thursday, French transport minister Frédéric Cuvillier said the plane disappeared over northern Mali and said that there were “likely numerous” French citizens on board. A Twitter account that appears to belong to the Algerian airline said in a tweet that there were 50 French citizens onboard.

Data from weather satellites show that there may have been storms in the plane’s flightpath:

TIME Africa

Mali Acts To Stem Spread Of Ebola

The government in Bamako has begun using thermal imaging to check for travelers with high fevers, and warned against non-essential travel for its citizens as ebola spreads in West Africa

Mali is on high alert against the spread of the ebola virus in western Africa, reports the BBC.

Three new suspected cases of the disease were found on Friday near where Mali borders Guinea, where 86 people have already died as a result of the illness. New government precautions include using thermal imaging cameras to screen people for potential signs of fever, as well as restricting the movements of people trying to enter the capital city of Bamako from the border region. The government in Mali has also advised citizens against travel to any suspected ebola-affected areas within the country.

The ebola virus is spread by close contact with other carriers and leads to a high fever causing muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting and even organ failure. There is no known cure.

The current outbreak was first discovered in Guinea’s southeastern region of Nzerekore, but was not officially confirmed as ebola for six weeks. It has since spread to the country’s capital, Conakry. Although normally found in places like Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has also reached Liberia where it has killed six people. Sierra Leone has similarly reported some cases, and Senegal has closed its border with Guinea.

[BBC]

TIME France

So Much for Freedom Fries: America’s New BFF Is France

First Lady Michelle Obama, French President Francois Hollande and President Barack Obama pose in front of the Grand Staircase for an official photo before a State Dinner at the White House February 11, 2014 in Washington.
First Lady Michelle Obama, French President Francois Hollande and President Barack Obama pose in front of the Grand Staircase for an official photo before a State Dinner at the White House February 11, 2014 in Washington. Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

What freedom fries? France and the U.S. have rarely looked closer as the Francois Hollande and the Obamas cozied up at an official State Dinner to toast the French president's arrival in Washington

This was only the seventh time President Obama had treated a visiting foreign leader to a full-on State Dinner and mon dieu but it was a flashy affair. French President François Hollande got the full works on Tuesday night: a menu of American Osetra caviar, dry-aged rib eye beef, Hawaiian chocolate-malted ganache and 300 guests summoned to the White House in his honor, including luminaries such as Bradley Cooper, Mindy Kaling, JJ Abrams, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Stephen Colbert.

You could see the logic. Louis-Dreyfus is half-French, Colbert’s name sounds French, and the wines, though American, were produced using French methods. The choice of Mary J. Blige as the evening’s headline act is a little harder to explain, but Daft Punk, France’s most successful band du jour, may have had trouble navigating White House security in their helmets. No matter: with both Obama and Hollande delivering effusive toasts to their very cordial entente, it was clear that the evening had successfully conveyed a message that suited both men: the U.S. and France heart each other. “We Americans have grown to love all things French — the films, the food, the wine. Especially the wine. But most of all, we love our French friends because we’ve stood together for our freedom for more than 200 years,” said Obama.

His warm words cloaked a dig at America’s erstwhile favorite chum, at least in the eyes of British mass-market newspaper, the Daily Mail. “OBAMA SNUBS BRITAIN AND COSIES UP THE FRENCH,” it declared in a headline above a piece describing Hollande’s first day in the U.S., a pleasant whirl of activity including a trip with Obama to Monticello, historic home of American founding father and supporter of the French Revolution Thomas Jefferson. Britons set great store by their Special Relationship™ with the U.S. and are apt to react like an official First Lady learning of a possible rival to her affections if America gets too close to another European country.

And in this case, they may be right to worry. Since France, not Britain, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. in joining potential air strikes against the Syrian regime and sent troops to Mali and the Central African Republic with U.S. support, there has been a distinct shift in transatlantic relations. Gone are the days when the U.S. dismissed the French as cheese-eating surrender monkeys for their refusal to get involved in the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Hollande looks like Obama’s most reliable ally, especially as the French leader has signalled his magnanimity on the issue that could have thrown cold water on the burgeoning bromance: the NSA’s spying on French citizens. As Hollande told TIME in an exclusive Jan. 24 interview, he intends to forgive if not to forget, looking instead for “a new cooperation in the field of intelligence.”

So intoxicating were the love vibes in the White House that even the French press corps, usually a buttoned-up bunch, got into the mood, snapping selfies as Hollande and Obama chatted oblivious to all but each other, in the background:

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