13-year-old girl clung to a piece of wood to survive Yemenia air crash in Indian Ocean
A 13-year-old girl survived the deadly crash of Yemenia Airways flight IY626 in the Indian Ocean by clinging to a wood plank for several hours before a small vessel picked her up.
The news site malango-actualite.com said a small vessel it identified as the Sima Com II picked her up after she had floated in the ocean for several hours following the crash which killed 152 others on board the Airbus A310.
The website said Bahia Bakari clung to the piece of wood for 12 hours before being rescued.
The website, reporting in French, said: ” C’est en début d’après-midi que le Sima Com II a retrouvé, flottant sur une planche de bois, une jeune fille de 14 ans, Dahia Bacar, qui dérivait depuis douze heures. Elle est arrivée dans la soirée au port de Moroni, apparemment indemne.”
Reuters said the agency was told by the El Maarouf Hospital she had some cuts and a broken collar bone but was in good condition.
The girl’s father told French media that he talked to her. She told him she had no idea what happened. She said she suddenly found herself in the dark after the plane fell into the water.
The Malango website said the girl had boarded a Yemenia Airways A320 in France with her mother and then changed to the Airbus A310 in Yemen. Bahia flew back to France on Thursday aboard a special plane and was reunited with her father.
A Yemeni pilot who died in the crash of his Airbus A310 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Comoros had survived the violent Mumbai hostage-taking by terrorists, Yemeni media reported.
Captain Khaled Hajeb, 45, was among the hostages held in Mumbai when Pakistani terrorists seized hotels and massacred guests. Hajeb, is survived by two daughters and a son. He was believed to be among the dead.
Accounts about how many bodies have been recovered at sea remain uncertain. The Yemeni Observer had earlier reported over 90 bodies had been found. However, most reports confirm the discovery of a few bodies.
Flight IY626 had left Paris for San’aa in Yemen and was destined to arrive in Moroni, Comoros, early Tuesday morning.
Divers as well as French air and naval vessels were heading to the area where wreckage and bodies were found. Comoros authorities told a local newspaper published in Moroni that divers and rescue personnel in speedboats were being sent to the area to retrieve bodies.
French authorities suggested the pilot attempted to land and then aborted the landing before coming back for a second try. There were high winds in the area at the time.
The aircraft had been visually sighted by the control tower before the crash and there was a five-minute radio blackout before the plane went down.
Winds were gusting at up to 37 miles per hour at the airport which is a difficult location to land on under the best of weather conditions. Comoros has poor airport infrastructure and has seen a number of crashes.
This is the second calamity to befall French nationals and Airbus Industries aircraft in a month. An Air France Airbus 330 crashed several hours after taking off from Brazil on June 1 killing all 228 on board. Only 51 bodies were recovered while the black boxes and the bulk of the aircraft remain under the sea off the Brazilian coast.
Flight IY626 had taken off from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on June 29 for Sanaa, Yemen. It then flew on to the Comoros.
Officials set up a crisis line for relatives of victims of the flight at Charles de Gaulle Airport. The number for relatives only is Paris 01 48 64 59 59.
There was one Canadian on board along with other nationalities. A French source earlier said there were 66 French nationals on board the plane.
President Sarkozy sent his condolences to Yemen and to the Comoros and expects to attend a prayer session, his second in a month for those lost at sea.