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Secret files on fatal Air France crash in 1968 set to be declassified

French authorities are working to declassify military files linked to a mysterious crash more than 50 years ago of an Air France plane that plunged into the Mediterranean just minutes before it was due to land, killing all 95 people aboard, families said.

Secret files on fatal Air France crash in 1968 set to be declassified
A memorial to the 95 people killed in the crash. Photo: AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to open up military records in a letter to an association of victims' families as they prepare to mark the 51st anniversary of the disaster near the southern city of Nice.

Many relatives have long suspected the Caravelle en route from Ajaccio on the island of Corsica was downed by a missile on September 11th, 1968, during French military exercises in the area.

The official version blamed a fire on board that prompted pilots to lose control.

In March 2018, an investigating magistrate requested access to the secret files, saying the theory of an accidental missile launch needed to be taken “very seriously”.


Families of the victims lay flowers at the mausoleum. Photo: AFP

In a letter to Mathieu Paoli, president of the victims' association, which was seen by AFP, Macron wrote that he “understands your search to uncover the truth”.

It added that he had asked Defence Minister Florence Parly to declassify documents if necessary and that the ministry was “pursuing its research to identify documents that might have been overlooked in previous investigations”.

Paoli, whose parents were aboard the flight, has long sought to prove the authorities covered up a missile strike, citing claims from an ex-military officer and others.

Paoli and his brother also found the ship's log for the French Navy's Suffren missile launching ship, which was in the waters near Nice at the time, but discovered that the entry for September 11th, 1968, had been torn out.

Ceremonies marking the disaster are scheduled in both Nice and Ajaccio this week.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

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