As the aviation world reels from the shocking fate of two Malaysia planes—one that mysteriously disappeared and another that was gunned down—another passenger plane bound for Algeria vanished from the radar screen and crashed somewhere in the vast desert of Northern Mali on Thursday.
“I can confirm that it has crashed,” an airline official told Reuters in a condition of anonymity, Chicago Tribune reported.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with Air Algérie Fight AH5017, which was carrying 116 people, as it flew above the Sahara from Burkina Faso to Algiers, The New York Times reported.
Two French military jets have been deployed to search for the missing plane, according to the French military.
“In keeping with procedures, Air Algerie has launched its emergency plan,” the airline said in a statement.
“Two Mirage 2000 jets were given the mission to search the area after reports of a suspected accident,” Colonel Jarron said. “They are in the air, searching the area between its last known destination along its most probable route.”
The airline lost contact with the jet 50 minutes into the flight, but the reason for the crash remains unknown. It was believed to disappear in Mali where a huge sandstorm with clouds rising above 40,000 feet was directly in the plane’s flight path at the time of the disappearance, TIME reported.
The international community has been active in intervening in the country where Islamic militants are operating. However, the rebels are not known to have high-powered artillery that could strike down an aircraft.
This year has been very tough for the aviation industry after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which is believed to have crash in the Indian Ocean in March, followed by the downing of Flight MH17 in Eastern Ukraine last Thursday. The planes carried 239 and 298 people, respectively.