Was Mariela Castro, Fidel's Niece and LGBT Activist, on Board Crashed Algerian Flight?

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Rumors swirled online this morning after Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban president Raúl Castro and niece of Fidel, was listed on the passenger list of a plane that went missing earlier today in north Africa. The Air Algerie flight encountered rough weather and is believed to have crashed near the border of Mali and Algeria, likely killing 116 passengers and crew.

Castro's name appeared on an initial passenger list posted by the Burkina Faso airport where the plane took off. But NBC News now reports that Castro is alive and well in Havana.

Update: CNN is also reporting that Mariela is alive and well in Havana.

Mariela Castro is a prominent gay rights activist credited with improving conditions for Cuba's LGBT community, which her uncle had once stigmatized.

News that Castro was aboard the missing plane was first posted on the Facebook page for Ouagadougou Airport in Burkina Faso. The plane, an MD-83, had left Ouagadougou on its way to Algiers about 50 minutes before it lost contact with ground control.

Reports that Castro was on the plane have blazed through the web, but at least one reliable source is now saying they're bunk.

The apparent crash marks a disastrous week for world aviation. Last Thursday, Ukrainian separatists allegedly shot down a Malaysian Airlines jet with almost 300 people on board, including students and noted AIDS researchers.

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