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Officials: Missing Air Algerie plane with 116 on board likely crashed

(CNN) — An Air Algerie flight with at least 116 people on board that dropped off radar early Thursday is thought to have crashed in Mali, the flight operator said.  Air Algerie said via Twitter that the plane has apparently crashed in the Tilemsi area, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the southeastern city of Gao

Flight 5017 lost radar contact 50 minutes after takeoff from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, early Thursday. It was supposed to arrive at Algiers’ Houari Boumediene Airport about four hours later.

The plane, an MD-83, is carrying 110 passengers, two pilots and four crew members. The MD-83 is part of the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 family of twin-engine, single-aisle jets.

The plane belongs to a private Spanish company, Swiftair, but it appears to have been operated by Air Algerie.

“We have lost contact with the plane,” Swiftair said.

“At this moment, emergency services and our staff are working on finding out more on this situation.”

Air Algerie said via Twitter, “Unfortunately, for the moment we have no more information than you do. We will give you the latest news live.”

Air Algerie is Algeria’s national airline, with flights to 28 countries.

The deadliest incident in the airline’s history occurred in March 2003 when a domestic fight crashed after takeoff, killing 102 people on board. One person survived.

In February, a Hercules C-130 military aircraft crashed in the mountains of eastern Algeria, killing 77 of the 78 people on board.

The MD-83′s disappearance comes exactly a week after a Malaysia Airlines plane was brought down in Ukraine with 298 people on board.

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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