Unconfirmed reports by two news agencies on Thursday stated that a niece of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Mariela Castro, was on the Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algiers that disappeared somewhere over North Africa.
The reports were based on a post on the Facebook account of the Ouagadougou Airport.
"I am here at the Hotel Nacional [in Havana] celebrating a birthday. I'm alive, kicking, happy and healthy," she told Venezuela's Telesur network.
"I honestly do not understand what kind of spectacle is intended with such an absurd story. The media has to inform people, once again they are dedicated to the show", added Castro, who is the daughter of Raul Castro.
“Among the passengers of the flight AH5017, there are two European officials of French nationality stationed in Ouagadougou and Mariela Castro niece of Fidel Castro, former head of Cuban State,” the Facebook post claimed.
Mariela Castro, a prominent LGBT activist and the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana, is the daughter of current Cuban president Raúl Castro and feminist revolutionary Vilma Espín.
Castro spent most of Thursday at Hotel Nacional where she was taking part in a symposium on gay rights.
“I saw her personally,” one journalist at the event told Fox News Latino in an email.
Air navigation services lost track of the MD-83 about 50 minutes after takeoff from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, the official Algerian news agency APS said., at 9:55 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Air Algerie Flight 5017 had "probably crashed."
Fabius said "no trace" of the plane had been found. Two French fighter jets are among aircraft scouring the rugged north of Mali for the plane, which was traveling from Ouagadougou to Algiers, the Algerian capital.
More than 50 French citizens were onboard the plane along with 27 Burkina Faso nationals and passengers from a dozen other countries. The crew was Spanish.
The flight was being operated by Spanish airline Swiftair, the company said in a statement, and the plane belonged to Swiftair.
The plane sent its last message around 9:30 p.m. Eastern, asking Niger air control to change its route because of heavy rains in the area, Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said.
The disappearance of the Air Algerie plane comes after a spate of aviation disasters. Fliers around the globe have been on edge ever since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March on its way to Beijing. Searchers have yet to find a single piece of wreckage from the jet with 239 people on board.
Last week, a Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down by a surface-to-air missile while flying over a war-torn section of Ukraine. Nothing indicates the jet was the target, but two back-to-back disasters involving Boeing 777s flown by the same airline was too much of a coincidence for many fliers.
Then this week, U.S. and European airlines started canceling flights to Tel Aviv after a rocket landed near the city's airport.
And on Wednesday a Taiwanese plane crashed during a storm, killing 48 people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.