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HAVANA - The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro blasted news organizations that reported she was on board the Air Algerie plane that went missing Thursday in West Africa. "It shows a lack of rigor on the part of the big news organizations," Mariela Castro told NBC News. "It caused alarm and unnecessary consternation here in Cuba. I am also worried that it took attention away from all the other important stories."

The flight, with 116 on board, vanished after departing Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, on its way to Algeria. In the immediate aftermath, several news organizations reported that Castro was a passenger, citing the airport's Facebook page. However, she was instead presenting her dissertation on the topic of "social integration of transexuals in Cuba" in Havana's Hotel Nacional.

Castro, the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, expressed condolences for the loss of life. “There's been a rash of crashes and loss of so many loved ones. And there are other important stories like the kids of the U.S. border that affects such large numbers of very poor people."

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro, talks to the press at the National Hotel in Havana on July 24.YAMIL LAGE / AFP - Getty Images


— Mary Murray