Family of 10 from France perish in Mali plane crash
A FRENCH family of 10 were among the 116 people who died after an Air Algerie plane crashed in Mali, it was disclosed yesterday.
Details of the human tragedy emerged as the French and Malian authorities began trying to piece together what happened to flight AH5017, which crashed just over 50 minutes after taking off from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso on Thursday morning. Amid earlier fears that the plane could have been brought down by a missile, there was a growing consensus the crash was likely due to bad weather. According to the latest details, France was the country with the most citizens on board, 54 in total. Others who perished included one Briton, believed to be David Morgan, and six Spanish flight crew employed by Swiftair, a company operating the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 on Air Algerie's behalf.
Those who died included three generations of one family. Michel Reynaud was travelling with his former wife, their two sons and two daughters, and four grandchildren. Patrice Dunand, the mayor of Gex in Chambery where two of the families lived spoke of his shock.
"This news has completely devastated me. It's awful. A complete family wiped out. I just can't imagine how it happened. We knew the family well, our kids went to the same school. They were really nice. Everyone was into sport, the parents were keen runners and took part in marathons in Lausanne, Lille and Paris."
Another family friend, Christian Plaza added: "It's a tragedy. This was the holiday of a lifetime.
"They shouldn't have gone, Nathan (a grandson) had broken his leg and they had only just removed the plaster.
"They were thinking of cancelling. He would have spent the holiday with us.
My son was expecting him, but now he will never come back." Several of those who died were aid workers including Jean-Marie Rauzier, who was returning after three months in Burkina Faso, as well as Andre Joly and Jutta Zoller who worked for a charity looking after disadvantaged children.
On the ground more than 200 French soldiers are guarding the wreckage, which was located in the Gossi region of Mali, close to the Burkina Faso border.
"I will devote all the military resources we have in Mali," said French president Francois Hollande. One of the aircraft's black boxes has already been recovered.
A preliminary inquiry has begun in Paris, an inquiry will also be held in Mali, and Washington's National Transportation Safety Board is likely to request an active role in the investigation, because the aircraft was made in America.
The last known confirmed contact with the pilot was at 1.55am on Thursday, less than an hour after the plane took off, when the pilot requested a change of course because of bad weather. (© Daily Telegraph, London)