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Missing Air Algerie Flight Appears To Have Crashed In Mali

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A jetliner flying to Algeria from Burkina Faso in West Africa vanished today. The Air Algerie plane, carrying 160 passengers, was last spotted on radar screens an hour after takeoff. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports the French fighter planes are leading the search, centered on the remote northern desert region of Mali.

OREIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: There are few clear indications of what might have happened to the missing Air Algerie flight and conflicting reports about the sighting of wreckage. But without giving details, Mali's president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, says he has been formed that wreckage has been seen between Aguelhok and Kidal in the far North. Earlier, reports of the aircraft had come down somewhere in the vast Sahara Desert, over Northern Mali, where there has been recent rebel activity. Aviation officials believe the plane, which apparently asked to be rerouted, may have flown into a powerful sandstorm before or after changing course. Heavy rains, thunderstorms and poor visibility were reported. Mali's former colonial power, France, dispatched two Mirage jets to search for the missing plane. The passengers were predominantly from France and Burkina Faso with others representing a dozen more nations. The aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, was registered to a private Spanish company, Swiftair, with a crew from Spain. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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