A passenger jet that crashed after vanishing over west Africa was likely brought down by bad weather, French officials said Friday. President Francois Hollande confirmed there were no survivors after the wreckage of Air Algerie Flight AH5017 was found near Gossi, Mali. One of the aircraft’s black boxes was also secured by French soldiers. Operated by Spain-based Swiftair, the jet was carrying 118 people when it lost contact with air traffic controllers about 50 minutes into its flight early Thursday. It was traveling from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to Algiers when the pilot asked permission to change route to avoid a heavy storm.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told France’s RTL radio he believed "the aircraft crashed for reasons linked to the weather conditions," according to a Reuters translation. French officials were also keen to stress the plane appeared to have broken apart upon hitting the ground, suggesting it was not shot down in the violence-plagued region. The crash was the third major plane disaster around the world within a week.
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Reuters contributed to this report.