French President says no survivors of Air Algerie crash

Photo: French President says no survivors of Air Algerie crash
 / Arab World

French President Franсois Hollande said there were no survivors found at the site of the Air Algerie crash in Northern Mali, adding that French troops dispatched to the scene had recovered one of the jetliner's black boxes, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"There are, alas, no survivors," Mr. Hollande somberly told reporters on the steps of the Élysée Palace. The French leader added that it was too soon to determine what caused the crash, but added that poor weather was one of the factors being considered. France's transport secretary has ruled out a surface-to-air missile as a cause.

The location of one of the black boxes is a sign the recovery effort is proceeding swiftly after peasants found the plane's wreckage overnight near the town of Gossi, not far from the northern Malian city of Gao. France dispatched a drone to verify the wreckage before deploying dozens of soldiers, army spokesman Col. Gilles Jaron said Friday morning.

Mr. Hollande said the debris from the crash was "concentrated" in one area, adding that French troops had secured the site.

The flight carrying at least 116 people crashed on Thursday in a region that has been beset by Islamist insurgents for more than a year.

France maintains a large military presence in the country after having sent thousands of troops to Mali in early 2013 to scatter the insurgents.

Concern over the protection of the crash site is particularly heightened after a Malaysia Airlines flight went down in eastern Ukraine, an area held by rebels fighting the Ukrainian military. The crash in Ukraine was dogged by reports of looting, and the bodies of victims were left to languish in the heat for days as rebels restricted access to the wreckage.

On Friday, the French presidency said the wreckage of the Air Algerie flight had been "clearly identified despite its disintegrated state."

French troops deployed to the Air Algerie wreckage were searching for the black boxes so that investigators can start to identify what caused the accident, French Transportation Secretary of State Frédéric Cuvillier said Friday on French TV.

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