An Algerian airliner flying between Burkina Faso and Algeria crashed over a remote stretch of the Sahara desert on Thursday, killing all 118 on board.
At least 54 of those passengers were from France. French President Francois Hollande declared three days of mourning as soldiers from Mali and the UN have been combing the wreckage for human remains. However, conditions on the ground- even under the best of circumstance- are pretty grim. The nearest town from the crash site is Gao, which has been fought over by the Malian government, Tuareg rebels, Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists and the French Foreign Legion over the last 24 months. Both the remote location of the crash site and the fact that the nearest population center is in an unstable war zone have slowed down transportation and communications considerably.
Two flight data recorders have been recovered from the crash site and flown back to France for further examination by that country's Bureau of Investigations and Analysis- the agency responsible for investigating major air accidents.
With Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 being shot down by a surface to air missile the week before, the downing of Air Algerie Flight 5017 led to concerns that terrorism could've played a role in the downing of the aircraft. However, Algeria has ruled out terrorism in the crash and AFP has reported that the pilots had asked to turn back shortly before the crash.
The Aircraft- a McDonnel-Douglas MD80- actually belonged to Spain's Swiftair and was leased to Air Algiere earlier this year.