A day after an Air Algerie jet crashed in Mali killing all 118 people aboard, France is dispatching a military unit to the site.
ABC News reports that on Friday morning French President François Hollande said one of the flight data recorders had been recovered. ABC adds:
“A French Reaper drone based in Niger spotted the wreckage, French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier told France-Info radio on Friday. Two helicopter teams also overflew, noting that the wreckage was in a concentrated area. A column of soldiers in some 30 vehicles were dispatched to the site, he said.
“A statement early Friday from the Hollande’s office said the aircraft had been clearly identified ‘despite its state of disintegration.’”
Air Algerie flight AH5017 was traveling from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers. Authorities lost contact with the plane shortly after they asked it to change course due to low visibility.
Reuters reports that Hollande said he would not exclude any theory as to what caused the plane crash, but weather is the leading contender.
“Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier said the strong smell of aircraft fuel at the crash site and the fact that the debris was scattered over a relatively small area also suggested the cause of the crash was linked to weather, a technical problem or a cumulation of such factors.
“‘We exclude – and have done so from the start – any ground strike,’ Cuvillier told France2 television.”
Fifty-one of the passengers aboard the plane were French.
Update at 2:23 p.m. ET. The Death Toll:
We’ve updated the death toll in this post from 116 to 118. President Hollande amended that number during his speech today.