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Air Algerie Jet Chartered by Spain's Swiftair Vanishes in Africa

A Swiftair MD-83 airplane is seen in this undated photo.
A Swiftair MD-83 airplane is seen in this undated photo.

A commercial jetliner carrying 116 people disappeared over west Africa after losing contact with air traffic controllers early Thursday, a Spanish charter company said.

Air Algerie Flight AH5017 vanished about 50 minutes after it left Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, according to the Algerian Press Service. The jet took off at 1:17 a.m. local time (9:17 p.m. ET on Wednesday) bound for Algiers, Algeria.

In a statement, Madrid-based Swiftair confirmed it had chartered the missing McDonnell Douglas MD-83. Swiftair said 110 passengers and six crew were aboard the jet. It had been due to land in the Algerian capital at 5:10 a.m. local time (12:10 a.m. ET). The flight was missing for hours before the news was made public.

Ougadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers.

An Algerian official told Reuters that the last contact with the jet was over Gao, Mali. An influx of arms and fighters from the 2011 Libyan civil and an attempted coup the following year has left Mali in Turmoil. Gao has witnessed recent attacks involving both Tuareg separatist rebels and al Qaeda-linked militants.

Read more at NBC News