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'No clear cause' identified for Air Algérie crash in Mali

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

A first report from investigators probing the crash of Air Algérie flight AH5017 said Saturday that the cause of the tragedy that killed 116 people was still unknown and that all possibilities were still being considered, including terrorism.

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"At the moment... nothing is telling us that we can rule out or confirm terrorism. We are not favouring any line of inquiry," Bernard Boudaille, of France's Bureau of Investigations and Analyses (BEA) air safety agency, told reporters in the Malian capital Bamako.

Flight AH5017 took off from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso bound for Algiers but crashed in the Mali desert on July 24, killing all 116 people on board.

The pilots of the doomed McDonnell Douglas 83 airliner had asked aviation authorities if they could turn back to Burkina Faso as bad weather struck.

Presenting the initial report into a probe into the tragedy, Boudaille and the head of Mali's civil aviation accident commission, N'Faly Cisse, said the crew was experienced, not hampered by fatigue and was prepared to deal with the difficult weather conditions.

Nearly half of the victims were French citizens. Other passengers had come from Burkina Faso, Lebanon, Algeria, Spain, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg.

Investigators said in August that the voice recordings taken from the cockpit were “unusable”.

"The tape was a little bit damaged,” Rémi Jouty, the head of France's BEA air safety agency, told journalists. “The BEA laboratory was able to restore the tape. Unfortunately the recordings are, so far, unusable.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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