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Bodies of all Air Algérie crash victims to be brought to France

© Sia Kambou, AFP | A French soldier guards the crash site in Mali.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-26

French President Francois Hollande said Saturday he wants the remains of all passengers on the Air Algerie plane that fell crashed in Mali to be brought to France and the site of this week's catastrophe marked with a memorial to the 118 who died.

UN peacekeepers in Mali found the second black box of the Air Algerie plane at the remote disaster site in the north, and the French president said the data and voice recorders must be analyzed as quickly as possible to determine the cause of the crash early Thursday.

Nearly half of the victims, 54, were French and Hollande has taken a leading role in the aftermath, stressing the need to determine the cause of the crash in a storm. "I don't want to rule out any hypothesis,'' he said again Saturday.

French authorities have said extreme bad weather was the probable cause but aren't ruling out anything, even terrorism. The plane went down in a restive area of Mali, where extremists roam.

Hollande ordered that flags on government buildings across France fly at half-mast for three days from Monday.

After meeting with relatives of victims for three hours on Saturday afternoon, he added that he would make sure that families can, at some point, travel to the crash site to help them cope with grief.

"A headstone will be erected so that no one ever forgets that on this land, on this site, 118 people perished," Hollande said in a television address, his third on the air disaster in three days.

Second black box found

He confirmed that early indications were that poor weather was the most likely cause of the crash, but added he did not rule out any other explanation at this stage. Two separate investigations are ongoing, he said.

The United Nations said on Saturday that its experts had located the second black box from flight AH5017 that crashed in the West African country earlier this week.

French, Malian and Dutch soldiers from a UN peacekeeping force (MINUSMA) secured the crash site, about 80 km (50 miles) south of the northern Malian town of Gossi, near the Burkina Faso border.

Initial evidence taken from the remote crash site indicates that the aircraft broke apart when it smashed to the ground early on Thursday morning, making an attack appear unlikely.

Malian authorities said they were opening an international inquiry into flight AH5017, which crashed less than an hour after it left the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou en route for Algiers.

Aviation authorities lost contact with the plane at around 0155 GMT on Thursday, shortly after the pilot asked to change course due to a storm.

Another plane crash is likely to add to nervousness about flying a week after a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed over Ukraine, and after a TransAsia Airways plane crashed off Taiwan during a thunderstorm on Wednesday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

Date created : 2014-07-26

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