BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Thursday said Lebanon was exerting all diplomatic efforts to follow up on the ill-fated Air Algerie passenger plane that crashed in Mali last week.
“We have placed all of Lebanon's diplomatic capabilities at our disposal to follow up on the search efforts and investigation,” Bassil told a group of victims' relatives at his office.
“We have not yet faced any procedural obstacles but the fact of the matter is that the accident was difficult, and the way the plane crashed makes looking for remains a difficult task.”
Lebanon dispatched a delegation to the crash site to help rescue teams search for the remains of the 19 Lebanese passengers. Fifty-four French nationals were also among the 118 passengers onboard the plane that took off from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso bound for Algiers, crashing less than an hour later.
France has revealed that preliminary investigations indicated that the pilots had asked to change route due to bad weather conditions.
The bodies of the Lebanese who perished in the crash will be sent to France for DNA testing.
“I wanted to meet with relatives of the victims to offer the condolences of the Lebanese state, and inform them about latest developments and everything we know,” Bassil said.
“They have a sacred right to know everything, including why the plane crashed.”
He said the government would announce a day of mourning once it secured the return of the victims’ remains.
“I hope we can organize a single reception for all of the victims' remains, if relatives agree.”