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Crew of ill-fated MD-83 asked to turn back: minister

French government officials have disclosed that the crew of the Swiftair Boeing MD-83 which crashed in Mali had sought to turn back during the flight.

The aircraft came down while operating an Air Algerie service from Ouagadougou to Algiers on 24 July.

French foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius told a briefing that the weather was “bad” during the night flight and that the crew had asked to divert.

But he also said the crew had then asked “to turn back” before contact with the aircraft was lost.

Fabius did not clarify whether the aircraft, operating flight AH5017, had been under radar surveillance.

He said that both flight recorders had arrived in Paris from the Malian capital Bamako, and that they are to be analysed by the French air accident investigation authority BEA.

Fabius said the crash site was “relatively small”, with small pieces of debris scattered over a distance of about 300m (1,000ft).

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