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French investigators head to Mali crash site

PARIS (AP) — French investigators are due to arrive tomorrow at the scene of a plane crash in the northwest African country of Mali. In the meantime, more than 200 troops are guarding the site, in a desolate and restive region of the country.

Terrorism hasn’t been ruled out as the cause, although officials say bad weather is the most likely reason for the crash, which killed all 118 people on board. Nearly half of the victims were French.

Soldiers today recovered one of the two flight recorders.

France’s foreign minister says the debris field is in an area that is difficult to reach, “especially in this rainy season.”

The pilots of the plane, which had been traveling from Burkina Faso to Algeria, had sent a final message asking air controllers to change their route because of heavy rain.

It was the third major plane disaster around the world within a week. A Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down last week over war-torn eastern Ukraine. The U.S. has blamed it on separatists firing a surface-to-air missile. On Wednesday, a Taiwanese plane crashed during a storm, killing 48 people.

%@AP Links

132-r-17-(Sound of French President Francois Hollande ( frahn-SWAH’ oh-LAWND), speaking French, with reporters)–Sound of French President Francois Hollande saying in French the investigation into the Algerian plane crash continues, and that the data recorder that’s been found will be examined as soon as possible. (25 Jul 2014)

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134-a-09-(French President Francois Hollande ( frahn-SWAH’ oh-LAWND), with AP English interpretation, with reporters)-“soon as possible”-French President Francois Hollande says, with English interpretation, that French investigators will help determine a cause. (25 Jul 2014)

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APPHOTO ABF106: Family members and friends await news on Air Algeria Flight 5017 which crashed in Mali on Thursday at the airport in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Friday, July 25, 2014. French soldiers recovered a black box from the Air Algerie wreckage site in a desolate region of restive northern Mali on Friday, officials said. Terrorism hasn’t been ruled out as a cause, although officials say the most likely reason for the catastrophe that killed all 118 people onboard is bad weather. (AP Photo/Brahima Ouedraogo) (25 Jul 2014)

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