Air traffic controllers lost contact with Air Algerie Flight AH5017 50 minutes after taking off from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso en route to Algiers.

The plane had 110 passengers and six crew on board, according to Spanish airline Swiftair, which charters the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 plane.

The route is often used by French tourists and businessmen, and Air Algerie said on Twitter that 50 of the passengers on board the plane were French.

The last contact with the plane was when the pilot contacted the control tower in Niamey, Niger, to change course because of a storm.

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal reportedly told Algerian media that the plane disappeared near Gao in Mali.

While armed groups are active in the area where the plane is believed to have gone down, bad weather is the most likely cause of any crash.

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