French officials doubt Air Algerie plane was attack victim

French officials doubt Air Algerie plane was attack victim
(Inset, from L) French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and French Junior Minister for Transport and Maritime Economy Frederic Cuvillier

PARIS - Investigators have concluded the Air Algerie flight with 116 people on board broke apart when it hit the ground, French officials said on Friday, suggesting this meant it 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, although no theory can be excluded at this point," 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 cumulation of such factors.

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