Air Algiers 1517 brings recent air crash death toll to over 700 souls


WASHINGTON, July 25, 2014 – Air Algiers flight 1517, operated by Swiftair, an MD-83 aircraft presumed crashed with 116 people aboard, joins Malaysia 17 killing 298, Malyasia 370 killing 239 persons including crew.

Yesterday, a crash in Taiwan killed 48 people. That crash was attributed to bad weather.

The Algeria Air tragedy happened sometime after 1:55 a.m. (9:55 EDT), about fifty minutes after takeoff, when U.N. troops say the plane vanished from radar between Gao and Tassalit.

The plane had departed from Ouagadougou International Airport and was bound to arrive at Algiers Houari Bourmediene Airport, Algiers at 5:10 a.m.  The last communication with the crew was sent at or around 9:30pm ET, asking Niger air control to divert its path to “avoid another aircraft”

Other reports are that the plane diverted to avoid weather in the area.

According to AccuWeather meteorologist Anthony Sagliani, thunderstorms in the plane’s path were not particularly violent.

“In general, there were scattered showers and thunderstorms across all of Burkina Faso and the southern half of Mali.” Sagliani said. “This was with the monsoon trough which is typically found here in late July. So this activity was quite normal.”

The MD-83 that is assumed to have crashed for reasons as yet unknown, was part of the fleet built in the early 1980s by McDonnell Douglas, a U.S. plane maker now owned by Boeing Co. Single-aisle planes, the MD-83 have been consistently used for short and medium-range flights.

The flight passenger lists shows that 50 of the person aboard were French.

The six person crew, including pilots, were Spanish. Air Algerie representative Kara Terki said known nationalities on board include 24 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, four Algerians, two from Luxembourg, one Belgian, one Swiss, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian, one Ukrainian and one Romanian.

French Minister of Transport, Frédéric Cuvillier, reports that the number of passengers of French nationality is 51.

And earlier report that Mariel Castro of Cuba was on the ill-fated plane has been confirmed as false. It is reported that she did not take the flight.

In a statement made earlier today to TV Channel Telesur, Ms. Castro, Cuban sexologist and activist said “I am alive and well, happy and healthy.”

BBC is reporting that an unidentified source with the airlines has said “not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route.”

French forces who are in Mali combating al Qaeda and tribal separatists have sent planes to search for the crash.

Ouagadougou, south of Algiers, had the plane passing over Mali where there are firefights between al-Qaeda fighters and Tuareg separatists against French forces in the area supporting the Government of Mali.

Last week, a suicide bombing took the life of a French solider in Northern Mali. Al Qaeda commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for that bombing. Abu Assem Al-Muhajir spokesman for the radical Islamist group Al-Mourabitoun, said the attack north of Gao, was “a response to French claims that they had annihilated the Mujahideen (Islamic fighters)” in a video posted to YouTube.

Balmokhtar is also the fighter who organized the attack on the gas plant in Algeria last year that killed more than 30 people. He is under indictment in the United States for conspiring to support Al Qaeda, using a weapon of mass destruction, discharging a firearm, using and carrying an explosive, conspiring to take hostages and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Associated Press reports a Senior French official has stated that that “it seems unlikely that fighters in Mali had the kind of weaponry that could shoot down a plane, and that they armed primarily with shoulder-fired weapons — not enough to hit a passenger plane flying at cruising altitude.”

However, is it possible that weapons from Libya found their way to fighters in Mali, which could have been used to attack a passenger flight.

The FAA has warned against US airlines flying into Israel.  The FAA has now issues a Warning on Mali saying:

There is a risk to the safety of U.S. civil flight operating into, out of, within or over Mail from small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, rockets and mortars, and anti-aircraft fire, to include shoulder-fired, man-portable air defense systems.”

Advanced search for the aircraft are concentrated in the southern region of Mali. “Despite intensive searches, no trace of the plane has been found yet,” Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius say.

These crashes claimed the lives of over 700 persons. Following the MH 370’s disappearance reported  Last year, total air related deaths worldwide were under 500.  The worst year for fatalities was 1972 when 3,320 people dies in plane related crashes according to Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives.

Here is a chart that looks at plane-crash data from 1918 to 2014, up to date as of March 8, 2014. The top 10 years for both deaths and crashes are highlighted in a darker color:


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