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Another passenger airliner goes missing, Air Algerie flight AH5017 has crashed

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Authorities are in a frantic search for Air Algerie flight AH5017 that took off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso Thursday July 24, 2014 with 116 on board. One of the last communications with the flight were its pilots requesting to change its flight path because of severe weather in the area. According to a Reuters report, officials believe the plane crashed somewhere near the border with Mali.

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The passenger and crew manifest consists of eight nationalities with many having duel citizenship. According to Ouagadougou International Airport's official website, the 116 on board included the following:

  • 6 Spanish crew members
  • 1 Swiss passenger
  • 1 Luxembourg passenger
  • 5 Canadian passengers
  • 4 German passengers
  • 51 French passengers
  • 20 Lebanese passengers
  • 26 Burkina Faso passengers

Burkina Faso, is a West African nation where the official language is French. It is surrounded by six countries which includes Ghana, Togo and Niger. It’s believed that most of the passengers on board are French citizens. The plane, an MD-83 twin engine jet was en route to Algeria when it dropped off of radar about 45-50 minutes into its flight on Thursday. The French government has dispatched two fighter jets to the region to follow the plane’s last known route in an attempt to locate it.

The crash of Air Algerie Flight AH5017 is the second air disaster in the space of one week. Last Thursday a Malaysia Airlines plane is believed to have been shot down by Russian backed Ukrainian separatists. Malaysia Air flight MH17 had 298 on board; all were lost. The site of the wreckage is in separatists controlled territory and it’s made investigating the incident difficult with accusations flying that Russia may be or attempting to impede forensic evidence collection. Diplomatic relations with Russia have been strained even further than they already were with this latest incident. Earlier today some of the remains of the victims of Flight MH17 were returned to The Netherlands where they were greeted by royalty and a somber nation. Several dozen hearses transported the remains from a cargo plane where Dutch citizens lined streets and stopped traffic to pay their respects.

Air Algerie flight AH5017 operated by Swiftair has been reported as having a good safety record. There have been five incidents with a total of eight fatalities since the late 1970’s. It’s still too early for officials to speculate as to what caused the crash given the crash site hasn’t been located. News of another jet lost is bound to cause some passengers to be jumpy and possible stifle an industry that has been plagued by rising fuel costs, security concerns and challenges in maintaining customer service.

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