||Air Algerie flight AH5017, en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers and carrying 116 people, has crashed, an Algerian aviation official told Reuters.
Here is what we know so far:
• Swiftair, the Spanish airline operated by Air Algerie, said it lost contact with MD83 aircraft — with 110 passengers and six crew members — about 50 minutes after takeoff from Ougadougou, the capital of the west African nation.
• Agence France-Press reports that the plane was "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."
• Weather officials said northern Mali was hit with a powerful sandstorm overnight.
• An airline source told AFP that contact with the aircraft was lost while it was over northern Mali, considered a "high risk" flight zone for U.S. airlines. But a senior French official told Associated Press that it is unlikely shoulder-fired weapons used by fighters in the region could shoot down an aircraft at cruising altitude.
• Issa Saly Maiga, head of Mali's National Civil Aviation Agency, said that a search was under way for the missing flight. "We do not know if the plane is Malian territory," Maiga told Reuters. "Aviation authorities are mobilized in all the countries concerned: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria and even Spain."
• There are reports that the plane crashed in Niger.