London (CNN) — An Air Algerie flight with 116 people on board has dropped off radar, prompting a search for the missing plane, the airline’s operator said Thursday.
Flight 5017 lost radar contact 50 minutes after takeoff from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, early Thursday. It was supposed to arrive at Algiers’ Houari Boumediene Airport about four hours later.
The plane, an MD-83, was carrying 110 passengers, two pilots and four crew members. The MD-83 is part of the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 family of twin-engine, single-aisle jets.
The plane belongs to a private Spanish company, Swiftair, but it appears to have been operated by Air Algerie. “We have lost contact with the plane,” Swiftair said.
Map: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
At this moment, emergency services and our staff are working on finding out more on this situation.”
Air Algerie said via Twitter, “Unfortunately, for the moment we have no more information than you do. We will give you the latest news live.”
The tweet appears since to have been deleted.
France is actively seeking more information about the location of the missing flight, following unconfirmed reports that many French citizens may have been on board.
“We are entirely mobilized in Paris as well as in Algiers and Ouagadougou where our embassies are in constant contact with local authorities and the airline,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that a hotline number has been established.
According to CNN meteorologist Mari Ramos, at the time of the flight, there were thunderstorms in the area of the flight path.
This is a turbulent area, so it is likely that if the plane was diverted because of weather, it was to avoid a bumpy flight. Thunderstorms are a very common occurrence at this time of year in this area.
Air Algerie is Algeria’s national airline, with flights to 28 countries.
The deadliest incident in the airline’s history occurred in March 2003 when a domestic flight crashed after takeoff, killing 102 people on board. One person survived.
In February, a Hercules C-130 military aircraft crashed in the mountains of eastern Algeria, killing 77 of the 78 people on board.
The MD-83’s disappearance comes exactly a week after a Malaysia Airlines plane was brought down in Ukraine with 298 people on board.