Bad weather seen as probable cause of Air Algerie crash
PARIS/BAMAKO, July 25 (Reuters) - Poor weather was the most likely cause of the crash of an Air Algerie flight in the West African country of Mali that killed all 118 people on board, French officials said on Friday.
Investigators at the scene of the crash in northern Mali concluded the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft broke apart when it smashed into the ground early on Thursday morning, the officials said, suggesting this meant it was unlikely to have been the victim of an attack.
"French soldiers who are on the ground have started the first investigations," French President Francois Hollande told reporters. "Sadly, there are no survivors."
The death toll, initially announced as 116, was revised up to 118 after a final passenger manifest was issued. An earlier count of 51 French nationals among the dead was also raised to 54 by the French Foreign Ministry to include those with dual nationality.
French, Malian and Dutch soldiers from a U.N. peacekeeping force (MINUSMA) secured the crash site, which lies about 80 km (50 miles) south of the northern Malian town of Gossi, near the Burkina Faso border.
Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore visited the remote site on Friday to express his condolences. Photos on his official Facebook page showed him walking solemnly past scraps of clothing and gnarled sheets of metal.
France sent troops to Mali last year to halt an al Qaeda-backed insurgency and has about 1,600 soldiers based in Mali, mostly in the northern city of Gao. French officials said there were no signs of insurgent activity in the area of the crash.