Many French nationals are thought to be on board an Air Algerie jet that went missing after taking off from Burkina Faso for Algiers, transport minister Frederic Cuvillier said Thursday.
"What we know is that it was an Air Algerie flight that was likely carrying many French people," he said.
France has sent two Mirage 2000 jets to look for the plane that went missing less than an hour after takeoff from Ouagadougou.
A source in Mali said that contact with the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 was lost over Gao in north Mali, a region that was seized by jihadists groups for several months in 2012 and that remains very unstable despite the Islamists being driven out in a French-led offensive.
An Air Algerie source said there were about 110 people on board.
France's civil aviation body said crisis cells had been set up at the airports of Paris and Marseille.