07/24/2014 06:03 EDT | Updated 09/23/2014 05:59 EDT

Air Algerie Flight AH5017 Crashes With 5 Canadians On Board (LIVE UPDATES)

An Air Algerie passenger plane has crashed with 116 people, including five Canadians, on board after losing radio contact on its route from Burkina Faso to Algiers in northern Africa.

An Algerian aviation official confirmed the plane went down, but didn't offer any more details.

Air navigation services lost track of the plane 50 minutes after takeoff early Thursday, last sited at 2 a.m. local time, the Algerian Press Service said. 

Swiftair, the Spanish private airline company that operates the plane, said a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 jet lost contact over northern Mali amid heavy rain.

It's not immediately clear where the plane went down or if there are any survivors. 

Burkina Faso's transport minister confirmed five Canadians were on board.

Also on the plane were 50 French citizens, 24 BurkinaFaso nationals, and passengers from Lebanon, Algeria, Switzerland, Nigeria, Cameroon and Mali.

It’s believed all six crew members were Spanish.

Jets help in search for plane

France’s military has dispatched two Mirage fighter jets based in West Africa to search for the plane.

"They will search an area from its last known destination along its probable route," said French army spokesman Gilles Jaron.

Said Chitour, an Algiers-based freelance reporter, said some of the passengers’ loved ones have gathered at the airport there to await any news.

The search for the plane will be difficult, Chitour said, as it was set to cross a large swath of the desert.

“It’s a very tough area where there’s nothing … it’s the middle of nowhere, really,” Chitour told CBC News Network.

Correction : An earlier version of this story based on Reuters information identified the missing jet as an Airbus A320. It is, in fact, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83. (Jul 24, 2014 6:52 AM)