PARIS: An Air Algerie jet that went missing over Mali Thursday has probably crashed but there has been no trace of the plane yet, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
Fabius said there were 51 French nationals aboard the flight from the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou to Algiers, which had more than 110 people on board in all.
"Despite intensive searches, no trace of the plane has been found as we speak," he said.
"The plane has probably crashed. The searches are focusing at this stage on a vast strip of Malian territory around the region of Gao," in the restive north of the west African nation, he said.
Fabius said according to information from Burkinabe officials there were 51 French nationals on board. He said there were people from 14 other nations on board, including the plane's Spanish crew.
"Contact was lost with the McDonnell-Douglas 83 at 01:47, a little after the pilots said they were diverting from the route due to meteorological reasons," he said.
There were reports of heavy storms in the region.
Northern Mali was seized by jihadist groups for several months in 2012 and the region has remained unstable despite the Islamists being driven out in a French-led offensive.
Despite international military intervention still under way, the situation remains unstable in northern Mali, which was seized by jihadist groups for several months in 2012. (AFP)