The first photos of the Air Algerie Flight AH5017 wreckage site in a desolate region of Mali have been released.

Images of the crash site scene taken by a soldier from Burkina Faso show a desolate area with scattered debris.

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An aerial view of the crash site in MaliREUTERS/ECPAD

There are bits of twisted metal but no identifiable parts such as the fuselage or tail, or victims' bodies.

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Twisted metal is seen at the Air Algerie crash site in MaliREUTERS/ECPAD

At least 116 people were killed in the disaster, nearly half of whom were French.

A black box was recovered from the wreckage in the Gossi region of Mali near the border with Burkina Faso.

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French soldiers inspect wreckage at the site of the Air Algerie crashREUTERS/ECPAD

"There are, alas, no survivors," French president François Hollande said. "I share the pain of families living through this terrible ordeal." A team of French air accident investigators was being sent to Mali, he said.

Hollande has said France will spare no efforts to uncover why the plane went down — the third major plane disaster around the world within a week.

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Part of the plane wreckage is seen at the crash site of Air Algerie flight AH5017 near the town of Gossi in MaliREUTERS/ECPAD

The vast deserts and mountains in this area of Mali fell under control of ethnic Tuareg separatists and then al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists after a military coup in 2012.

French forces intervened in January 2013 to rout Islamist extremists controlling the region. A French soldier was killed earlier this month near the town of Gao, where French troops remain.

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Wreckage is strewn across the ground, leading investigators to conclude it was unlikely to have been shot downREUTERS/ECPAD

The intervention scattered the extremists but the Tuaregs have pushed back against the authority of the Bamako-based government. Meanwhile, the threat from Islamic militants hasn't disappeared and France is giving its troops a new and larger anti-terrorist mission across the region.

"There are hypotheses, notably weather-related, but we don't rule out anything because we want to know what happened," said Hollande. "What we know is that the debris is concentrated in a limited space but it is too soon to draw conclusions."