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: