A group of herders who say they saw Air Algerie flight AH5017 crash claim it went down after being struck by lightning, local officials told Reuters.
Louis Berthaud, a community counsellor in Gossi near where the plane carrying 116 people went down, said: "The herders were in the bush and saw the plane fall."
He added: "It must have been a storm and it was struck by lightning. They said it was on fire as it fell, before it crashed."
At the moment the cause of the crash appears to be bad weather but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said no hypothesis, including terrorist attacks, had been excluded.
More top news
Hundreds of pupils from Alperton Community School in Brent, London,cheered and waved flags as Andria Zafirakou arrived holding the prize.
The Novichok incident in Salisbury has turned into an international diplomatic crisis. But how bad could things get? Adam Shaw reports.