An Air Algerie plane with 116 people on board is believed to have crashed, according to the French Foreign Minister.
A search is underway for the aircraft chartered by Spanish airline Swiftair. It was travelling from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to Algiers.
At least 51 of the passengers are reported to be French. The six crew members are Spanish.
France’s president François Hollande held an emergency cabinet meeting upon hearing the news.
“At the moment we can’t establish the cause of what has happened. My thoughts are with the families who are anxiously waiting for news at the various different airports. I would like to express the nation’s solidarity. I’ve asked the government to bring all the families together and give them all the information that we have,” he said.
Stormy conditions had been reported in the area at the time the aircraft disappeared.
The captain of the Mac Donnell Douglas MD83 is said to have changed routes.
There had earlier been conflicting reports as to what route flight AH 5017 had taken.
The head of French Civil Aviation authorities said the plane had been checked “two or three days ago” and added that “it was in good condition.”