PARIS (AFP) - Ten people from the same family with roots in France’s east died in the Air Algerie crash, local officials and relatives said Friday as the full extent of the tragedy came to light.
The members of the Reynaud family were on board the plane that crashed Thursday in Mali, the local authorities of the towns some of them lived in and their families confirmed.
At least 116 people were on board Flight AH5017 which took off from Burkina Faso's capital of Ouagadougou for Algiers on Thursday. The plane, operated by Spanish charter company Swiftair, went missing amid reports of heavy storms in the area, and the wreckage was found late Thursday in Mali near the Burkina Faso border. All on board have been confirmed dead.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday that 54 of the victims were French nationals, up from the previous toll of 51. Fabius told reporters that the new toll included dual nationals.
More information about the victims emerged on Friday.
A French girl who died in the plane crash had confided to her teacher she was scared of flying before departing on a trip she was otherwise excited about, an acquaintance said. Chloe, 10, was on board the jet with her parents, elder brother and grandmother on her way back from a trip to Burkina Faso, said Denise Labbe of the town hall in the small, central town of Menet where the family lived.
“Everyone is devastated in the town. We all know the family, who live in front of the town hall. No one can quite believe it, it’s like having a bad dream,” Labbe said. The five had been due to land in the southern city of Marseille after transiting through Algiers.
Chloe “had confided in her teacher before leaving about her fear of taking the plane, which she was doing for the first time”, Labbe said.
Besides French nationals, the airline said 24 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, six Spanish, five Canadians, four Germans and two Luxembourg nationals were also on board.
The first images of the Air Algerie crash site in Mali emerged Friday, showing a stark terrain littered with bits of a plane that appears to have been pulverised on impact.
The video, aired on France 2 television, was filmed by soldiers from Burkina Faso. The grainy footage shows bits of the fuselage scattered over a large, sandy-looking terrain of dry shrubs, which is blackened in some areas.
Such was the violence of the apparent impact, that the debris seen on the video was barely recognisable as parts of an aircraft. A soldier is seen taking photos of the remains of the wreck.