Thursday, February 26, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Teams converge on remote site to probe plane crash

By
From page A10 | July 26, 2014 |

PARIS — Aviation experts, criminal investigators and soldiers began converging Friday on an isolated patch of restive Mali to search for clues that might explain why an Air Algerie jetliner fell from the sky in a storm and apparently disintegrated on impact.

French authorities said the catastrophe was probably the result of extreme bad weather, but they refused to exclude other possibilities, like terrorism, without a full investigation. All 118 people aboard the plane were killed.

The loss of flight 5017 wiped out whole families. Nearly half of the dead were French. The passenger list also included other Europeans, Canadians and Africans. The six crew members were Spanish.

One man pleaded with French officials not to hold back any information about the crash that killed his brother and other family members.

“Tell us. Especially give us an explanation,” Amadou Ouedraogo asked on BFM-TV.

French authorities planned to meet Saturday with victims’ families.

The MD-83 was flying from Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, to Algiers, Algeria, when it disappeared early Thursday just 50 minutes after takeoff – the third crash of a passenger plane in the last week.

More than 200 French, Malian and Dutch troops from the United Nations force in Mali secured the site ahead of the arrival this weekend of aviation and criminal investigators.

France has opened a manslaughter investigation because of the 54 French victims.

One of plane’s two black boxes was found Friday and sent to Gao, the northern Mali city where a contingent of French troops is based.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said victims’ remains would be sent to Gao for identification before being returned home.

Difficult access to the area and instability could hinder the investigation.

Gao is in the heart of a still-restive desert and mountain area in northern Mali that fell under the control of Tuareg separatists, then al-Qaida linked Islamist extremists after a 2012 military coup.

French forces intervened in the west African country in January 2013 to rout Islamist extremists controlling the region. A French soldier was killed earlier this month in the Gao region.

The debris field to the south is in a concentrated area in the Gossi region near the border with Burkina Faso. The area is “in a zone of savannah and sand with very difficult access, especially in this rainy season,” Fabius said at a presentation with the defense and transport ministers.

Traveling by road from the debris field to Gossi would take six hours, he said, stressing that the field investigation could take time.

Col. Patrick Tourron of the French Gendarmerie’s victim-identification unit told BFM-TV that fingerprints, DNA and teeth would provide the primary clues to each victim’s identity. Surviving family members were to be asked for victims’ toothbrushes and the names of their dentists, he said.

Video of the wreckage site taken by a soldier from Burkina Faso, the nation first on the scene, showed unrecognizable debris scattered over a desolate area dotted with scrubby vegetation. There were bits of twisted metal but no identifiable parts such as the fuselage or tail, or victims’ bodies. An aerial view shown later on French television revealed similar devastation.

Investigators from Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria and Spain were joining the inquiry, the French foreign minister said.

It’s too early to know “with absolute certitude” what caused the disaster, Fabius said, but he noted major storms in the region.

The pilot of the jet had advised controllers in Niger that he needed to change routes because of a storm, Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said Thursday. Contact with the plane was then lost.

A French Reaper drone based in neighboring Niger spotted the wreckage after getting alerts from Burkina Faso and Malian soldiers, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters.

“There are hypotheses, notably weather-related, but we don’t rule out anything because we want to know what happened,” French President Francois Hollande said Friday after a crisis meeting.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve reiterated the same message: “We think the plane went down due to weather conditions.” But, speaking on RTL radio, he added: “Terrorist groups are in the zone. … We know these groups are hostile to Western interests.”

The jet, owned by the Spanish airline Swiftair, had passed its annual air navigation certificate inspection in January without any problems, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said Friday. The European Aviation Safety Agency also carried out a “ramp inspection” – or unannounced spot check – of the plane in June.

Santamaria said another ramp inspection was done in Marseille, France, on July 22 – two days before the plane went down.

Ramp inspections “are limited to on-the-spot assessments and cannot substitute for proper regulatory oversight,” the EASA website says. “Ramp inspections serve as pointers, but they cannot guarantee the airworthiness of a particular aircraft.”

A Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down last week over war-torn eastern Ukraine. The U.S. has blamed it on separatists firing a surface-to-air missile. On Wednesday, a Taiwanese plane crashed during a storm, killing 48 people.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Children tackle history during Wax Museum project

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Suisun Walmart to open March 25

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 8 Comments | Gallery

     
    Searchers find infant’s body

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

     
     
     
    Pedestrians hit by cars in 2 separate incidents

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 8 Comments | Gallery

     
    Vacaville police clear homeless from area

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

     
    Legislative committee votes for earthquake relief bill

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

    NorthBay Healthcare Group expands lease

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

     
    State to close part of I-80 to continue project

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

     
    Fairfield police log: Feb. 24, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    Suisun City police log: Feb. 24, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    .

    US / World

    Family celebrating one-month birthdays of identical triplets

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Massive I-95 pileup leaves 17 injured in snowy Maine

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    CEO has plan for crime prediction system

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Dog owner lawsuit alleges food made his pups sick

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    What happens, and not, in Homeland Security shutdown

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Pet shop owner found guilty of arson

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Harris only Dem left after Villaraigosa exits campaign

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Regulators eyeing tighter cybersecurity requirements

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Technology might have prevented deaths in train crash

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Speaker has plan to help fund affordable housing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Hungarian village available for rent

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Journalists arrested in Paris for drone flights

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Afghanistan avalanche destroys homes, kills 124

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Polanski appears in court to face extradition

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Opinion

    Chinese economy may be stalling – and that’s OK

    By William Pesek | From Page: A7

     
     
    Time to put down the joystick

    By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

    Editorial Cartoon: Feb. 26, 2015

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Living

    Community Calendar: Feb. 26, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Today in History: Feb. 26, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Feb. 26, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Entertainment

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Gucci designer makes debut during Milan Fashion Week

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    People: Lindsay Lohan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Clark says players against radical speed-up changes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Kings grind out 102-90 win over Grizzlies in Sacramento

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
     
    Bay Area’s Semien in the mix for A’s shortstop job

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    IOC head quizzed about water shortages in Rio, golf course

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    McIlroy looking to keep momentum to the Masters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Felipe Mata Mislang

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Donald Grimm

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Thomas Browning

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Gabriel T. Traub

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Maria Kraszewski

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9