(OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso) -- An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people has vanished from the radar in a desert area of Mali, authorities said Thursday. Air navigation services lost track of the plane, an MD-83 model, about 50 minutes after it took off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, en route to Algiers. French forces, which are stationed in Mali to combat al Qaeda and tribal separatists, sent two planes in search the airliner.
The airport in Ouagadougou said on its Facebook page the French planes found wreckage in an inaccessible desert area halfway between the towns of Gao and Kidal, but French officials in France said they had found "no trace" of the missing aircraft.
The airline said that there were 110 passengers on board as well as six crew members.
Burkina Faso's transport minister said 50 French nationals were among those onboard, along with 24 Burkina Faso nationals, six Lebanese, five Canadians, four Algerians, two Luxemburg nationals, one Swiss, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian.
News of the plane's disappearance came when Swiftair, the Spanish company that operated the plane, released a statement saying the plane had not arrived at its destination.
Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said the plane sent its last message around 0130 GMT (9:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday), asking Niger air control to change its route because of heavy rains in the area.
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