Paris - Nobody survived the crash of an Air Algerie flight over Mali, French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday, adding that the plane's black box flight recorder had been found.
“Sadly, there were no survivors” of Flight AH5017 that had 116 people on board, including 51 French nationals, when it went down over northern Mali, Hollande said in televised comments.
The French military has recovered the flight recorder and was taking it to the city of Gao, he added.
Earlier, France's transport minister said it was extremely unlikely, and even “out of the question”, that any of the passengers or crew 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.
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.