Has the world reached the purging stage as precursor to the prophesied end of times? In just a span of seven days, some 500 lives were lost from around the world due to three aviation accidents, the latest of which is the Air Algerie flight AH5017.
The Algerian aircraft, with 110 passengers and six crew, suddenly disappeared on radar on Thursday 50 minutes after taking off from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers. It was believed to have crashed over northern Africa.
Prior to its disappearance, its pilot had reportedly contacted air traffic controllers at 0117 GMT, requesting permission to divert from its planned course because of heavy rain and poor visibility over northern Mali.
Owned by the Spanish company Swiftair, Air Algerie flight AH5017's disappearance was made public only after its 0410 GMT scheduled arrival time in the Algerian capital.
Issa Saly Maiga, head of Mali's National Civil Aviation Agency, told Reuters that aviation authorities have been mobilised in all the countries concerned, including Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria and even Spain.
Air Algerie flight AH5017's passenger list included
Two from Luxembourg
Conflicting reports have flaunted from the governments of Burkina Faso and France.
Gen. Gilbert Diendéré, the coordinator of the Burkina Faso government's crisis unit for the missing jet, said soldiers had found the wreckage of the plane. It was in a semi-deserted area 60 miles south of Gao, Mali.
"We found no survivors," the New York Times quoted Diendéré. "Someone saw the plane fall and alerted us, so we sent a mission there that went to the spot. But we couldn't examine the wreck because night was falling."
His pronouncement was backed up no less than by Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who said the wreckage had been spotted between Aguelhoc and Kidal.
Col. Gilles Jaron, a spokesman for the French Army, meantime said they haven't found any wreckage. France had dispatched warplanes from a base in West Africa to search for the plane.
"Everything we know leads us to believe this aircraft has crashed in Mali," French president François Hollande said. "The search will go on for as long as necessary and everything will be done to find this aircraft."
He also said the governments of Burkina Faso, Algeria and France are looking at all possible angles to determine the cause of the crash "because every situation is different ... we have to establish what happened."
Diendéré said the wreckage they found would be examined on Friday. He suggested the Air Algerie flight AH5017 plane, an MD-83, might have crashed due to the bad weather. "There were a lot of storms, and there was lightning."
Residents of northern Mali reported experiencing a heavy sandstorm blast overnight.
"There was a lot of damage from the wind, especially in the region of Kidal," Kata Data Alhousseini Maiga, an official with the United Nations mission in Gao, Mali, said. "The sand was so thick that you couldn't see."
The disappearance and probable crash of Air Algerie flight AH5017 followed just days after Malaysia Airlines MH17 was downed from the sky over eastern Ukraine on July 17, and the crash of TransAsia Airways Flight 222 off Taiwan during a thunderstorm on Wednesday. Both incidents claimed a total of 345 lives.
This still excludes the lives fortunately spared when a Hamas rocket landed within a mile of Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel on Tuesday.
The passengers of Air Algerie flight AH5017 were going either for Europe, the Middle East or Canada.