France honours those lost on Air Algérie Flight AH5017
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Flags flew at half-mast from government buildings across France on Monday in honour of the victims of Air Algérie Flight AH5017, which crashed last week in northern Mali with 118 people on board, 54 of them French.
President François Hollande ordered that the French tricolour be lowered for three days starting on Monday in a display of public mourning. The French citizens were by far the largest group of victims from a single country.
Two black boxes from Flight AH5017 arrived in France later on Monday.
The Air Algérie flight, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, first went missing last Thursday not long after it took off from Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou for the Algerian capital, Algiers. Aviation authorities said they lost contact with the aircraft after the pilot asked to change course because of a storm. The plane’s wreckage was later spotted in the remote reaches of northern Mali.
There were no survivors from the crash, which claimed the lives of entire families. Those lost included nationals from Burkina Faso, Lebanon, Algeria, Spain, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg.
Although the cause of the tragedy has yet to be confirmed, severe weather has emerged as the most likely culprit. Evidence taken from the crash site has indicated that the plane broke apart when it hit the ground, making the possibility of an attack improbable.
As investigators scoured the plane’s wreckage over the weekend, Hollande met some of the victims’ families in Paris. He then announced that all the bodies would be flown to France and a monument would be built at the site of the crash in remembrance of those killed.
“A headstone will be erected so that no one ever forgets that on this land, on this site, 118 people perished,” Hollande said.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)