French President Francois Hollande has confirmed that there were no survivors in the crash of an Air Algerie passenger plane in the West African state of Mali.
French officials now say 118 people were on board the aircraft which disappeared en route from Burkina Faso to Algeria.
Some 51 passengers were from France whose troops, stationed in the region, have secured the crash site.
“A black box has been retrieved,” Hollande told reporters on Friday morning.
“It is being taken to Gao and so will be analysed as quickly as possible. What we know already is that the plane’s wreckage is concentrated in a small area – but it is still too early to draw any conclusions. They will come in due course.”
France deployed soldiers to Mail last year to halt an al Qaeda-backed insurgency and has about 1,600 soldiers based in Mali predominantly in the northern city of Gao.
Poor weather is thought to be the most likely cause of the crash. Investigators believe the airliner broke apart when it hit the ground, suggesting it was unlikely to have been the victim of an attack.
Chartered from Spanish airline Swiftair, the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 lost contact with aviation officials less than an hour after take-off on Thursday, following a request by the pilot to change course because of bad weather.
The plane had a Spanish crew and passengers of several nationalities.
Other than the 51 French nationals, Burkina Faso authorities said the passenger list included 27 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two from Luxembourg, one Cameroonian, one Belgian, one Egyptian, one Ukranian, one Swiss, one Nigerian and one Malian.
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