Yemenia crash survivor returns home
Girl who clung to floating debris for 12 hours is reunited with family in Paris.
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2009 22:21 GMT

 Bahia Bakari was met by her father Kassim Bakari as she landed at Le Bourget airport [AFP]

A 13-year-old girl believed to be the sole survivor of the Yemeni plane crash off the Comoros earlier this week has arrived in Paris to be reunited with her family.

Bahia Bakari was met by her father and other relatives as she landed at an airport north of Paris at around 0600 GMT on Thursday.

Kassim Bakari, her father, said: "I am torn between relief and sadness.

"I am happy to see my daughter, but her mother did not come back."

An ambulance drove up to the plane after it landed at Le Bourget airport to transfer her directly to hospital.

Search for wreckage

Bakari had clung to floating debris for more than 12 hours after being ejected from the Airbus A310 as it plunged into the Indian Ocean early on Tuesday morning.

Doctors in the Comoros earlier said Bakari, who suffered a fractured collar bone, hypothermia and bruises in the crash, had been discharged from their care at the request of her father.

Recent air crashes

 1 June: Air France Airbus plane travelling from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappears in the Atlantic with 228 people on board

 20 May: Indonesian army C-130 Hercules transport plane crashes into a village on eastern Java, killing at least 97 people

 12 February: Plane crashes into a house in Buffalo, New York, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground

"The girl was regaining her spirit and was in a satisfactory physical state," Dr Jean Youssef, the lead doctor at the disaster unit on Grand Comore, said.

Bakari, the eldest of four children, had been travelling with her mother from Paris to Comoros, where they had planned to spend part of the summer holidays with her relatives, when the aircraft went down.

Kassim said she found herself beside the aircraft after the crash in the middle of the night.

"She couldn't feel anything, and found herself in the water. She heard people speaking around her but she couldn't see anyone in the darkness," he told France's RTL radio.

It is still not known what caused the Yemenia airlines jet, which was carrying 153 people, to crash.

French and US military aircraft are continuing to scour the crash site, but officials said there was little hope of finding more survivors.

Local rescuers believe many of the dead remained trapped inside the plane and say the search effort should focus on finding the wreckage.

"Everything leads us to believe that the bodies of the victims remain inside. In two days we haven't found a body, any large pieces of debris or suitcases floating on the water," Ibrahim Abdourazak, a disaster centre member, told the Reuters news agency.

'Black box' located

One of the plane's "black box" flight recorders, which hold crucial information about the aircraft's flight and are generally orange in colour, had been located, the French government said on Wednesday.

An aerial patrol picked up the recorder's signal about 40km from Grande Comore, a spokesman for Alain Joyandet, the French co-operation minister, said.

The crash came two years after aviation officials reported equipment faults with the aircraft, an ageing Airbus 310 flying the last leg of a Yemenia airlines flight from Paris and Marseille to the Comoros.

The airport's control tower lost contact with the aircraft shortly after receiving notification that it was coming in to land.

Three infants and 11 crew were among those on board.

The plane, carrying mostly French and Comoran nationals, was flying from the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, to Moroni on the main Comoros island of Grande Comore.

Most passengers had travelled to Sanaa from Paris or Marseille on another aircraft.

The crash marks the second time an Airbus has plunged into the sea this month, after an Air France Airbus A330-200 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing 228 people on board on June 1.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.