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Mali crash mourned

July 28, 2014

Two German police experts have been sent to France to help identify victims of last week's Air Algerie plane crash in Mali. Their remains are to be brought to France where flags are flying at half-mast.

Air-Algerie Wrack in Mali Absturzstelle 24.07.2014
Image: Reuters

France was in mourning on Monday as probes continued into last Thursday's Air Algerie tragedy. Fifty-four French nationals were among the 118 killed, along with citizens of seven other nations.

Germany's BKA Federal Criminal Office said its two forensic experts would consult with French officials on identification. Among those killed were a German development aid worker and three members of her family who were on board.

French President Francois Hollande, who on Monday consulted further with cabinet ministers, had said on Saturday that he wanted the remains of all occupants brought to France.

Fabius: Crew wanted turned back

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius revealed on Monday at a Paris news conference that "the plane crew had asked to change route then to turn back before all contact was lost."

He spoke shortly after the flight data recorder and the damaged voice recorder of the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 arrived in France for analysis.

Fabius said air crash experts at the remote desert site of the accident in Mali's barren Gossi area were working in "extremely difficult conditions".

Alongside, more than 20 French aviation investigators were experts from Mali, Algeria and Spain, he said.

They were trying to determine why the plane - which was operated by Spanish charter firm Swiftair on behalf of Air Algerie - came down with such force that it completely disintegrated.

The flight had taken off from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso bound for Algiers.

Other causes not excluded

Earlier, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve had said bad weather was the most likely accident cause, but French authorities have not ruled out terrorism.

Regional Tuareg rebels and al Qaeda-linked Islamists took control in northern Mali in 2012 after a military coup, prompting a French-led military intervention.

Mali's Bamako-based government warned recently that the rebels might try to retake Mali's northern cities.

Both the Burkina Faso and Malian governments have said they have also launched inquiries into the crash which took place 50 minutes into the flight.

Accident series

Thursday's Air Algerie crash was the third major aviation disaster within just eight days.

The series began with alleged downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane over war-torn eastern Ukraine and an airliner crash in Taiwan during torrential rain.

ipj/kms (AFP, dpa, AP)