Initial reports of the crash were confirmed by Algerian aviation authorities. "I can confirm that it has crashed," an anonymous official told Reuters. While details of the whereabouts of the plane remain unclear, early reports from the CCTV network and Algerian TV suggested that it went down in Niger.
A spokeswoman for Spanish private airline company, Swiftair, confirmed that it had lost contact with one of its planes operated by Air Algerie on Thursday. The plane was an Air Algerie MD-83, flight AH5017.
"Air navigation services have lost contact with an Air Algerie plane Thursday flying from Ouagadougou to Algiers, 50 minutes after take-off,"the airline said.
Swiftair said that there had been “no contact” with the missing aircraft since.
French Transport Minister, Frederic Cuvillier, told reporters that it was “likely many” French passengers were on board the flight.
"There are 110 passengers and 6 crew traveling on the plane, of which four are pilots and two cabin crew," the Swiftair statement confirmed.
The six crew members are Spanish.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) July 24, 2014
Burkina Faso’s transport minister confirmed that the Air Algerie flight had asked to change course at 1:38 am GMT because of a storm.
— Simon Proud (@simon_rp84) July 24, 2014
Meanwhile, an Algerian aviation source, who wished to remain anonymous, told AFP that “the plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route.”
The number of French citizens on board the plane remains unconfirmed. A representative for the airline stated that, according to passenger lists, some 50 French nationals were traveling on the route, while French and Spanish media are suggesting the number may be even higher.
“We are totally mobilized, both in Paris, and at crisis centers in Algiers and Ouagadougou, where our embassies are in constant contact with local authorities and the airline,” the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on their website.
Two French fighter jets have been dispatched to help locate the flight, a French army spokesperson told Reuters.
"Two Mirage 2000 jets based in Africa were dispatched to try and locate the Air Algerie plane that disappeared on Thursday." Gilles Jaron said. "They will search an area from its last known destination along its probable route," he added.
Among the other passengers were citizens of Algeria and Burkino Faso. Information on whether there may have been any Russians on board remains unavailable. “We continue to clarify the nationality of the passengers through contact with local authorities,” a spokesman at the Russian Embassy in Algiers told Itar-Tass.