Vigil commemorates 12 Quebec residents who perished in Air Algerie crash
Many of those touched by the tragic deaths of 12 Quebec residents aboard an Air Algiers plane that crashed Thursday in Mali met at Marie Victorin Park in Longueuil to express their sorrows Friday evening.
Most of those in attendance had ties to the landlocked West African nation of Burkina Faso and took part in a solemn remembrance, as it is still unknown whether a proper local burial for the victims will even be possible due to conditions caused by the wreckage.
A dozen Quebec residents, five of whom are Canadian citizens, were among the 110 passengers who died in the crash.
Winmalo Somda, his wife Angelique and their children Nathanael and Arielle all died, as did Winmato's brother Wilfred. All five lived in Longueuil.
Along with the five from the Montreal-area, there were seven other passengers from other parts of Quebec among the victims.
Isabelle Prevost, a mother of three from Sherbrooke, Kadidia Kouanda and her son Aboubacar Yameogo from Jonquiere, Gatineau resident Mamadou Zoungrna's wife and two children, and a Quebec City woman whose name was not released also died in the crash.
Montreal-based Burkinabe community representative Mahamadi Savadogo said in an interview Friday that his group had tallied the Quebec-related death toll at 11, however.
The Somdas were in Burkina Faso attending a wedding anniversary party. Rita Somda, Wilfred’s wife, did not accompany them because she is nine months pregnant with their second child. They have a three-year-old daughter.
Her husband, brother and sister-in-law and their kids were the only family she had in Canada. “It’s really hard. If I try to understand what happened, I’ll go crazy,” she said. “I have to have courage, accept it and live for those who are still here.”
Prevost, 35, had been planning the trip for years and reportedly had never been on a plane before this week.
Her spouse Danny Frappier said that he's hoping to be able to recover her remains.
"We're hoping there's part of her body that can be repatriated, some kind of proof that she was really there, that she's really dead, I don't know." The couple has three children, aged five, seven and nine.
Mamadou Zoungrana wife and his two children, ages 6 and 13, were among the dead.
The Gatineau, Que., resident had moved from Burkina Faso two years ago in search of a better life. His wife and children, aged 6 and 13, had recently finalized their paperwork and were about to join him.
“I was planning this for a long time, I was so happy,” Zoungrana said.
“I am totally lost. I don’t know what will become of me tomorrow,” Zoungrana said as friends tried to comfort him Friday. “My children are gone with their mother.”
The wreckage of the plane that went missing Thursday was found about 50 kilometres from the border of Burkina Faso near a village in Mali, according to official Gen. Gilbert Diendere.
Terrorism hasn't been ruled out as a cause of the crash, although officials say the most likely reason for the catastrophe that killed all onboard is bad weather.
"They found human remains and the wreckage of the plane totally burnt and scattered," said the aide to the president of Burkina Faso.
Diendre said search crews went to the site near the village of Boulikessi after a resident described seeing a plane go down.
Flight 5017 vanished off the radar early Thursday over northern Mali while a heavy storm pounded the area. The flight took off from Ougadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, at about 1 a.m. Thursday and disappeared from the radar nearly an hour later, according to the official Algerian news agency APS.
The flight was headed to the Algerian capital and was scheduled to land at 1:10 a.m. local time Thursday.
Fifty-one French nationals were also on the flight, according to Burkina Faso’s Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo. French government officials set up an emergency command centre in Paris to deal with the incident.
According to officials in Burkina Faso, 27 passengers were from Burkina Faso and eight from Lebanon, in addition to six Algerians, four Germans, two Luxembourg nationals and one passenger each from Switzerland, Belgium, Egypt, Ukraine, Nigeria, Cameroon and Mali.
In all, the flight carried 110 passengers and six crew members.
The Burkina Faso Association of Montreal has started a donation campaign to benefit the affected families . Those who want to donate can contact Ibrahim Kabore at 514-999-5992.
Following the crash the Montreal-based International Air Transport Association issued a statement describing the "sad week," while the also Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization called a special meeting Tuesday to deal with the spate of recent air passenger disasters.
-- with files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press