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First Air Algérie crash investigation report fails to establish cause

media A French military helicopter lands at the crash site in Mali Reuters/ECPAD

A first report on July’s Air Algérie crash in Mali has failed to establish a cause, investigators revealed on Saturday in Mali. Fifty-four of the 116 victims were French and France’s air safety body, the BEA, is leading the inquiry.

Investigators have found no proof of a terrorist attack but have not ruled out that explanation or any other, BEA official Bernard Boudaille said when presenting the report in the Malain capital, Bamako, along with Burkina Faso investigation chief N’Faly Cissé.

Flight AH5017 crashed 32 minutes after leaving Ougadougou heading for Algiers on 24 July and all 116 passengers and crew were killed.

Investigators have established that the crew was not tired or lacking in experience and was prepared for difficult weather conditions.

The McDonnell-Douglas MD-83’s automatic pilot was disconnected but it is not clear whether that was intentional and the cockpit recorder was faulty, meaning that messages between the crew cannot be understood.

The other black box has revealed that the plane took a sudden dive after its engines slowed down but weather conditions seem to have been normal, the plane having avoided clouds that could have meant turbulence and ice on the plane.

On 7 August the BEA established that the plane broke up on impact with the ground and refused to rule out “deliberate action” as the cause.

Families of Burkinabé victims expressed disappointment at the report.

French President François Hollande meant familes of French victims in Paris on Saturday.

They will be invited to go to the scene of the crash before the end of the year, he said, and the identification of victims through DNA tests should be finished by the beginning of next year.

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