Paris - France's transport minister said on Friday it was extremely unlikely, and even “out of the question”, that any of the 116 people on board an Air Algerie plane that crashed in Mali had survived.
“Given the state of the plane (wreck), it is very unlikely, even out of the question, that there are any survivors,” Frederic Cuvillier said on French television, adding that French military forces were heading to the site where the jet, which was carrying 51 French nationals, crashed.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, meanwhile, said the most likely cause of Thursday's crash was bad weather conditions, although authorities were not excluding other hypotheses.
“We think that this plane crashed for reasons pertaining to meteorological conditions,” he said on RTL radio.
The jet's Spanish crew had signalled they were altering course due to difficult weather conditions, and company sources and officials said there had been reports of heavy storms at the time.
Cuvillier said the possibility of a strike from the ground had been ruled out “from the start”, rejecting speculation that rebels in Mali's restive north could have shot the plane down.