Passenger Jet Vanishes Over Desert North of Timbuktu

Jetliner with 110 passengers and six crew members flew into heavy sand storms before it vanished.
2:46 | 07/24/14

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Transcript for Passenger Jet Vanishes Over Desert North of Timbuktu
And we come on the air with news almost impossible to believe. Another plane tragedy, the third in one week. And at this moment, we have breaking news on that passenger jet that seemed to have vanished over a vast desert, north of timbuktu in Africa. Right now, reports are streaming in that search teams may have located the wreckage, amid questions about powerful storms near where the plane was flying. ABC's David Kerley, who coverers aviation, has the new clues coming in. Reporter: The race was on all day to find wreckage. Two French fighter jets looking for any sign of this plane, or survivors, in the Sahara desert in Mali. It was the red eye taking off just before 1:00 A.M. From the tiny country of Burkina Faso heading to Algeria. The md-83 was about 50 minutes into flight when a call came in from the pilots to change course because of the strong storms. According to the French, at 1:47, the jet drops off radar, disappearing. This is what the jetliner with 110 passengers and a crew of six was flying into. Heavy sand storms. The French foreign minister says the jet likely crashed but would not rule out any cause. Among the other possibilities terrorism? Mali is designated by the U.S. As a dangerous area to fly, home to an Al Qaeda affiliate. Why they may have shoulder launched rockets, but they can't reach a jet at high altitude where the md-83 was flying. Yesterday, a plane crashes on a Taiwan island in a typhoon, killing 48. And if this Africa crash was weather, should you be worried? Experts say jetliners are designed to make it through strong storms, but they should be avoided by pilots. The Normal procedure is, you fly around large thunderstorms. Familiarly sand storms are really bad, because the sand is ingested in the engines and it can create a problem. Jet liners are tested to survive, even lightning, as we learned in a Boeing lab. And in the U.S., every two hours -- West coast, low creelings of fog moved out. Reporter: The FAA, from its command Senter, is talking to airlines. Airlines which man their own come mabd centers around the country, keeping jets on the safest route. While this wreckage may have been found tonight, and more than 100 may have been killed, experts see no trend here, and say flying remains extremely safe. In fact, last year, 3 billion people flew. There were only 210 fatalities worldwide. Diane? Again, it's been an incredible week. And thank you so much, David Kerley.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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