A plane crossing Northern Africa crashed overnight with 116 people on board, Reuters reports that an Algerian official has said. The flight, AH5017 operated by Air Algerie, was headed from the capital of Burkina Faso to the capital of Algeria and disappeared about 50 minutes after takeoff, according to the BBC. Contact was lost just before 2AM GMT (10PM ET), shortly after the aircraft is reported to have requested permission to change course to avoid a storm. The plane was reported missing many hours later, with officials only confirming the crash after 1PM GMT. Almost half of the people on board were French citizens.
"The search will go on for as long as necessary."
There are not yet details on where the plane crashed or what caused it to crash. But speculation has centered on Mali as being home to the crash site. "Everything we know leads us to believe this aircraft has crashed in Mali," French President François Hollande says, according to The Guardian. "The search will go on for as long as necessary and everything will be done to find this aircraft."
The Washington Post notes that there is currently unrest in Mali, but that it is unlikely that fighters there would have weaponry capable of targeting a plane. The concern follows the attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which crashed in Ukraine last week while carrying 298 people after being hit by a surface-to-air missile. Another deadly crash occurred yesterday in Taiwan, killing 48 after a failed attempt to land.
Update July 24th, 6PM ET: this story has been updated with a quote from French President François Hollande.