New information by investigators suggests the Air Algérie flight AH5017 dropped 10,000 meters in 3 minutes when it hit a storm.
French authorities have not yet ruled out any explanations for the crash but said that bad weather was an important factor in the accident.
Burkina Faso officials said radar images produced by air traffic control show that there was a storm in the plane’s path and that the pilot first tried to fly around it. “Perhaps the pilot thought he had completely avoided it and wanted to return to the original route. The accident occurred while the plane performed this maneuver,” said General Gilbert Diendéré, a Burkina Faso official in charge of investigating the crash, as quoted by Newsweek.
The flight was headed from Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, to Algiers.
The plane crashed over Mali, 50 kilometers from the border with Burkina Faso, killing all 118 passengers and crew on board, including 54 French citizens.
Contact was lost with the plane at 01:47 local time, 30 minutes after the plane took off. According to Burkina Faso officials, witnesses reported the crash at 01:50, which would mean the plane plummeted 10,000 meters in 3 minutes.
This would explain why French experts at the site of the crash have not found “a single intact body” among the debris. According to Le Monde, Colonel Patrick Touron, Deputy Director of the Institute of Criminal Research of the French gendarmerie, who is responsible for identification, said that investigators are forced to “conduct DNA analysis,” in order to identify the victims as “conventional forensic measures” would not work.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal investigation for “involuntary homicide by mistake, carelessness, inattention, negligence, or breach of duty of care as required by law or regulation,” as quoted from Le Monde.
The two black boxes from the flight were sent to France for investigation, which could take several weeks.