Tue, Jul 29, 2014 - Page 7 News List

French authorities await black boxes


French Junior Minister for Foreign Trade, Tourism and French Nationals Abroad Fleur Pellerin, left, and French Junior Minister Transport, Maritime Economy and Fishery Frederic Cuvillier arrive at the Elysee Palace in Paris yesterday for a meeting with French President Francois Hollande about the Air Algerie crash in Mali.

Photo: AFP

Flags flew at half-mast in France yesterday, mourning for the 118 victims of the Air Algerie plane tragedy, as investigators waited for the black boxes from the crash to arrive.

Thousands of kilometers away on the remote desert site of the accident in Mali, experts were sifting through the remains of the aircraft to try and determine why it plunged to the ground with such force that it completely disintegrated.

“They will try to glean the maximum information,” Remi Jouty, head of France’s Bureau of Investigations and Analyses agency, said in Paris.

Their work will take a “few days,” he said, adding that the bureau will examine the plane’s flight recorders and other information, including the prevailing weather conditions at the time.

Malian Communications Minister Mahamadou Camara said the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder had been taken to the capital, Bamako, from the site and were thought to have left for France on Sunday.

Video footage of Mali’s remote, barren Gossi area where the plane came down showed a scene of devastation littered with twisted and burned fragments of the plane.

“We saw the impact of the crash, with debris everywhere. For now, we cannot speak to you of bodies,” Malian Transport Minister Hachim Koumare said after a visit to the site.

No one survived the impact of the tragedy on Thursday last week and entire families were wiped out.

France bore the brunt of the tragedy, with 54 of its nationals killed in the crash of the McDonnell Douglas 83, which had taken off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and was bound for Algiers.

Travelers from Burkina Faso, Lebanon, Algeria, Spain, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg also died in the crash that has tentatively been blamed on bad weather that forced the pilots to change course.

Mali on Sunday said it had launched a judicial inquiry into the cause of the disaster, adding to similar efforts from Paris and Ouagadougou.

Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore announced the inquiry after meeting with the families of the victims of diverse nationalities.

Meanwhile, Paris has taken the lead in the probe, and French President Francois Hollande said the bodies of all passengers on the plane — and not just French nationals — would be repatriated to France.

Yesterday morning, he held another crisis meeting with ministers at the presidency, where the national flag flew at half-mast to mourn the victims — like on every other government building in the country.

Prayers were held on Sunday for the victims in many churches in Burkina Faso, while people left a teddy bear, flowers and lit candles at Ouagadougou Airport next to the photographs of some of the dead.

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