Poor weather was the most likely cause of the crash of an Air Algerie flight over the West African state of Mali with 116 people on board, French officials said on Friday.
Investigators at the scene of the crash had concluded the airliner broke apart when it hit the ground, the officials said, suggesting the plane was unlikely to have been the victim of an attack.
“The aircraft was destroyed at the moment it crashed,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio of the wreckage of the plane carrying 51 French nationals which crashed in Mali near the border with Burkina Faso on Thursday.
“We think the aircraft crashed for reasons linked to the weather conditions. No theory can be excluded at this point … but that is indeed the most likely theory,” he added.
Separately, Transport Minister, Frederic Cuvillier, said the strong smell of aircraft fuel at the crash site and the fact that the debris was scattered over a relatively small area also suggested the cause of the crash was linked to weather, a technical problem or a combination of such factors.
“We exclude – and have done so from the start – any ground strike,” Cuvillier told France 2 television.
He added that a column of 100 soldiers from the French force stationed in the region were on their way to secure the crash site near the northern town of Gossi. France deployed troops to Mail last year to halt an al Qaeda-backed insurgency.
Algeria’s national airline lost contact with the plane flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers across the Sahara about 50 minutes after take-off from Ouagadougou.
The Flight AH 5017 has 110 passengers and 6 crew on board, Spanish airline, Swiftair, who owns the plane, said.
An unnamed Air Algerie company source, told AFP news agency on Thursday 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. Contact was lost after the change of course”.
Burkina Faso authorities said the passenger list included 51 French, 27 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two from Luxembourg, one Cameroonian, one Belgian, one Egyptian, one Ukranian, one Swiss, one Nigerian and one Malian. Crash site investigators saw no survivors.
Bad weather, murky water and strong currents have been hampering the search for survivors of the South Korean ferry disaster as loved ones and anxious relatives offer prayers for the safe return of their loved ones.
Emergency services are still searching for nearly 300 people missing after a ship carrying more than 470 people sank.
Officials say 179 people have been rescued. Most of the passengers were pupils at the same high school.
The captain of the sunken South Korean ferry apologized to families of the victims and those missing on Thursday (April 17) as the coast guard investigates him. The ferry sank off South Korea’s southwest coast on Wednesday, leaving at least nine dead and about 290 missing
Witnesses told Korean media that the captain of the vessel, who is now being held by police, was one of the first to leave the stricken vessel.
The vessel, carrying 475 passengers and crew, capsized during a journey from the northwestern port of Incheon to the southern holiday island of Jeju. It went down about 20 km off the country’s southwestern coast.
Meanwhile, South Korean President, Park Geun-Hye, visited the site of the accident as coast guards continue search operations for about 290 missing people.
In the video, Park observed search operations on a boat and was briefed by a coast guard officer.
Rescuers fought rising winds and waves as they searched for hundreds of people, mostly teenage schoolchildren, still missing.
Frustrated parents of some of the missing school children are, however, hiring their own boats and divers to find survivors. Others jeer at coastguard officials asking why they’re not out searching for the missing passengers.
So far 179 people have been rescued and nine confirmed dead in what could be the country’s worst maritime accident in 20 years.
It is not known why the 6,586 ton vessel, built in Japan 20 years ago, sank.
From April 7, to about July 15, 20 years ago, between 500,000 to one million people were killed in Rwanda.
That period of time, was known as the genocide mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu, planned by members of the core political elite, known as the Akazu, many of whom were already in top government positions.
According to sources, the war took place in the context of the Rwandan civil war, which was an ongoing conflict that had begun in 1990, between the Hutu-led government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front, composed mainly of Tutsi refugees, whose families had fled to Uganda after their earlier encounter with Hutu violence against the Tutsi.
For many Rwandans, the experience of the genocide brought a lot of suspicion, fear and tension, in the years that followed after the genocide.
Today, many have only one phrase on their lips; that is, ‘Rwanda genocide, never again!’
The younger generation is doing what it can to cope with the country’s horrific past, as many lost parents and loved ones in the killing.
To help them move on, orphans from the period, have been coming together to form groups, that support one another while others are using social media such as facebook, to preach peace and reconciliation.
A Lot Has Changed
Believe it or not, a lot has changed in Rwanda, since then.
The country is said to have low corruption, compared with neighbouring African countries. It also has the highest proportion of females in government positions, in proportion to the population.
Although seriously affected by the genocide, its economy has grown since then. A country of few natural resources, the economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture by local farmers, using simple tools.
However, tourism is a fast-growing sector in Rwanda, and is now the country’s leading foreign exchange earner.
Rwanda’s high commissioner to Nigeria, told Channels Television that Rwandans had moved on and are looking ahead to make the country work.
“There are many initiatives to make the people come together. People have gone beyond ethnic divisions. Things have changed,” he said.
Just like many at the time, he also had his losses.
One week after the referendum in Crimea, Russia has already begun integrating the peninsula with people there already turning in their Ukrainian passports for that of Russia and Russian flags have now been hoisted at 189 Ukrainian military units and facilities in Crimea.
The EU has accused Russia of pre-planning this move, but according to Russia’s ambassador to the EU, the ‘reunification’ had not been pre-planned, but was the end of what it called an ‘abnormality’ which had lasted for 60 years.
The United States, having imposed sanctions on Russia’s main leaders, has ruled out sending US troops to Ukraine, which has gone ahead to sign that long awaited deal with the European Union.
Meanwhile, Nato is worried about the growing number of Russian soldiers on Ukraine’s eastern border.
What’s going on between Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union, only reminds us of the period just after the end of the cold war, when both sides continued their show of force for who was better.
Analysts believe the tensions surrounding the Crimea have further degraded relations between Russia and the United States.
The US and its allies thought the tension would all end at the negotiating table, which is why a series of warnings came from all parties opposed to the Russian take over.
Moscow however, has shown it is not afraid of sanctions or repercussions, and instead, pushed ahead, signing the declaration annexing Crimea, backed by the country’s parliament.
As with all things in international politics, there are actions and counter-actions. One of them is the sanctions imposed by the United States and the EU.
Will they bring Russia to its knees?
A Professor with the Political Science Department, Covenant University in Ota, Ogun State, Kayode Soremekun, says there were several dimensions and views to the issue, ranging from what could be called ‘Russian aggression, Washington’s hypocrisy.’
He said that what has happened has been likened to an earlier throw back to what happened in the time of Adolf Hitler.
“When you are talking of international politics, every country has its own interest to protect and in this case Russia’s interests run counter to Washington’s interest.
“Russia has some Russians living in Crimea and what Russia did was a irredentist’s move,” Professor Soremekun.
He explained that the sanction would not only have effect on Russia but also on the countries that had issued the sanctions.
Mystery Of Missing Malaysian Flight MH370
Diplomatic Channels also considered the circumstances surrounding the missing Malaysian plane, MH370 that has left the whole world amazed for over two weeks of the plane’s disappearance off the radar at the control tower in Kuala Lumpur.
The plane was on its way to the Chinese capital, Beijing, but disappeared after one hour of take-off time.
On board were 239 people and Malaysian authorities believe it was deliberately taken off course.
Since the middle of last week, the search has been in two distinct corridors, one stretching to the north-west of the last known location in the Malacca straits, and one to the south-west.
Rescuers are now working with leads from satellite images, believed to be debris from the missing plane, but even that has proved inconclusive.
Every minute and every hour is crucial in the search for the missing plane, especially the data recorder, which has a battery lifespan of 30 days.
On March 24, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, informed the families of those missing on flight MH370 that the plane likely crashed in the Indian Ocean west of Perth. Now the search will concentrate on the Southern part of the Indian Ocean.
With 26 countries involved in the search, using the latest technological equipment for an extensive search, there are still no answers on debris.
Chinese family members of passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 clashed with police during protests on Tuesday (March 25) in Beijing against the Malaysian government’s handling of the lost plane.
Protesters marched through the centre of the street, chanting ‘Return our families,’ and some holding signs reading “1.3 Billion People Waiting to Greet the Plane.”
At one point protesters demanded that media, which had been cordoned off into several zones by police, follow them to the Malaysian embassy.
At least a dozen protesters began pulling at media behind the cordoned zone to join them; demanding police allow them to enter the restricted area. Police officers physically removed several of the family members from the scene.
One family member could be seen lying on the ground, passed out, after police moved the media away.
The protest ended after a few hours, when police told protesters to get on buses and escorted them out of the area.
Steven Wang, who would not say which of his relatives was a passenger on flight MH370, said that the second secretary from the Malaysian embassy had come out to meet the protesters after they presented him with their statement.
The statement, released earlier on Tuesday by the Malaysia Airlines MH370 Family Committee, angrily denounced Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian government, and the Malaysian military as “executioners” of their family members for their poor handling of the case.
“We were just sitting in front of the embassy and what we are aiming at is to the Malaysian government…we’re just waiting (for) the negotiations between the Chinese government and the Malaysian government,” Wang told media.
Criticism of the Malaysian national carrier mounted after some relatives of those on board first received the news that the search for survivors was over in an SMS from the airline, which said: “We have to assume beyond all reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and none of those on board survived.”
When asked by a reporter if he still had doubts about the fate of the passengers, Wang said he did.
“Yes of course, because no evidence. They just give out the result from analysis from the satellite data, and nothing found, so why would we believe (that)?,” said Wang, adding “I don’t believe it.”
Of the 239 people aboard the plane which disappeared over two weeks ago on the way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, around two thirds were Chinese.
On Monday (March 24) night, there were hysterical scenes at the hotel where relatives met to watch the Malaysian Prime Minister’s announcement that the plane had likely crashed into the South Indian Ocean, leaving no survivors.
Malaysia Airlines has promised to take the relatives to Australia, the focal point of the search.
Bad weather and rough seas on Tuesday forced the suspension of the search for any wreckage of the missing plane.