Canadian victims in crashed Air Algerie flight identified 0
The husband of a Quebec woman who was one of five Canadians aboard the Air Algerie flight that crashed Thursday has yet to hear from officials about the fate of his wife.
"We are waiting since this morning,” Dany Frappier told QMI Agency. “We do not understand that the consulate is not able to provide more information, at least to confirm," he said.
"We are two families completely torn up since this morning,” he said.
Flight AH5017, en route from Burkina Faso to Algeria, dropped off the radar 50 minutes after takeoff, in the early morning hours Thursday.
Frappier’s wife Isabelle Prevost, 35, a mother of three from Sherbrooke, Que., was heading home after a 10-day trip to Burkina Faso she’d been planning for years, he said.
It was Prevost’s first time on an airplane and her first time outside the country, Frappier said.
Her mother-in-law spoke to her before she left.
"At one point, she told us: "I love you all," Lucie Morel-Frappier told QMI Agency. "I'll bring pictures. You'll have beautiful pictures."
The other four were members of the same Longueuil, Que., family.
QMI Agency has learned they are Winmalo Somda, his wife Angelica and their children Nathaniel and Arielle. The family had lived in Canada for five years after moving from Burkina Faso, relatives told QMI.
Also with them was Winmalo's brother, Wilfred Somda, who did not have Canadian citizenship but lived in Longueuil with his wife and child for the past two years. His wife did not make the trip to Africa with her husband because she is expecting their second child any day.
Relatives say she last spoke with Somda on Wednesday night and that she had not heard from him since. He was supposed to have returned to Montreal on Thursday with the other members of their family.
A relative was seen collapsing to the ground in tears in front of the apartment building where the victims lived.
The Somda brothers had left Quebec two weeks ago to return to their homeland for their parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, say relatives.
A family friend, Helene, said she was floored by news of the plane crash.
“(Wilfred) was like our son and (his wife) was like our daughter,” said the woman. “They came...to Canada for a better life for themselves and their children.”
CLICK PICTURE TO OPEN PHOTO GALLERY
A woman collapses in tears on Thursday, July 24, 2014 after receiving news that five members of the Somda family likely died in the crash of an Air Algerie plane in Mali. The woman was in front of the Somda family's apartment building in Longueuil, Que., on Montreal's south shore. MAXIME DELAND/QMI AGENCY
On Thursday evening it was confirmed the plane's wreckage had been found between the Malian town of Gossi and the Burkina Faso border.
"It is confirmed that Canadians are among the victims," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew who lost their lives in this tragedy."
He also said the government is providing "support on the ground."
Poor weather was the most likely cause of the crash of an Air Algerie flight in the West African state of Mali that killed all 116 people on board, French officials said on Friday.
Investigators at the scene of the crash in northern Mali concluded the airliner broke apart when it hit the ground, the officials said, suggesting this meant it was unlikely to have been the victim of an attack.
"French soldiers who are on the ground have started the first investigations. Sadly there are no survivors," French President Francois Hollande told reporters.
A column of 100 soldiers and 30 vehicles from the French force stationed in the region arrived early on Friday morning to secure the crash site near the northern Mali town of Gossi and recover bodies, a Defence Ministry official said.
Hollande said one of the black box flight recorders had already been recovered and would be analysed quickly.
"The plane's debris is concentrated in a small area, but it is too early to draw conclusions," Hollande said of the wreckage of the plane carrying 51 French nationals that crashed near the border with Burkina Faso, from where it had taken off.
According to a list of the 110 passengers, 50 on board are French nationals, 24 from Burkina Faso, six Lebanese, five Canadians, four Algerians, two from Luxembourg and single travellers from Switzerland, Nigeria, Cameroon and Mali.
The six crew members are from Spain.
Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said the flight asked to change route at 1:38 a.m. GMT because of a storm in the area.
Whatever the cause, another plane crash is likely to add to nerves in the industry after a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed over Ukraine last week, a TransAsia Airways flight crashed off Taiwan during a thunderstorm on Wednesday and airlines cancelled flights into Tel Aviv because of the conflict in Gaza.
Canadian Andrei Anghel, a 24-year-old from Ajax, Ont., was killed in the Malaysia Airlines crash.
Patrick Gagnon, a Montrealer who lives in Burkina Faso's capital of Ouagadougou, said the Canadians in the country all know each other.
Gagnon says he often flies on Air Algerie but is now having second thoughts.
"Even though these things usually don't happen twice, we don't feel too safe taking this airline, so I think it's difficult for people here, and it's also difficult for the airline."
Authorities set up a crisis unit in Ouagadougou airport to provide information to families.
Aviation websites said the aircraft, one of four MD-83s owned by Swiftair, a private Spanish company, was 18 years old.
U.S. planemaker McDonnell Douglas, now part of Boeing, stopped producing the MD-80 airliner family in 1999 but it remains in widespread use.
Swiftair has a relatively clean safety record, with five accidents since 1977, according to the Washington-based Flight Safety Foundation.
Air Algerie's last major accident was in 2003 when one of its planes crashed shortly after takeoff from the southern Algerian city of Tamanrasset, killing 102 people.
- with files from Reuters