02.07.2009 International

Survivor Speaks Of Yemenia Crash

By Daily Guide
Survivor Speaks Of Yemenia Crash
02.07.2009 LISTEN

The surviving girl in the hospital A 12-year-old girl thought to be the only survivor of the Yemenia air crash has told how she was thrown into the ocean and watched her aircraft sink.

Baya Bakari told her father at a hospital in Yemen that she heard voices around her in the Indian Ocean, but could not see anyone.

She was found clinging to debris some two hours after the crash.

The plane, going to the Comoros Islands from Yemen's capital Sanaa, came down in bad weather with 153 on board.

Many of the passengers were travelling to the Comoros Islands but had begun their journey in Paris or Marseille on another jet operated by Yemenia, the national airline of Yemen, before boarding flight IY626 in Sanaa.

The EU and France have both said highlighted safety concerns over Yemenia planes and said the jet that crashed had not flown into EU airspace since 2007.

But no official cause for the crash has yet been found. Earlier on Wednesday a French government minister in the Comoros capital, Moroni, said that a detected signal thought to be from one of the plane's "black box" flight recorders was in fact a distress beacon.

'True miracle'
Ms Bakari, who lives in Paris with her family, remains in hospital in Moroni being treated for injuries said to include a fractured collarbone and burns. French officials said late on Wednesday that she was 12 years old, contradicting earlier reports she was 14.

Speaking from Paris her father, Kassim Bakari, said she was thrown from the plane as it hit the water. He said she clearly recalled the chaos of her time in the water.

"She said, 'Papa, we saw the plane going down in the water. I was in the dark, I couldn't see a thing.

"'[And] on top of that daddy, I can't swim well and I held onto something, but don't really know what'.

"She's a very timid girl, I never thought she would escape like that," he said, describing her as "fragile" and barely able to swim.

Mr Bakari recalled how he said goodbye to his wife and daughter at the airport as they headed to the Comoros.

"I kissed them both, then my wife turned around, she looked at me and she waved, and my daughter she didn't do anything, and that was the last time I saw my wife alive, because my daughter... I will see her again I hope , but for my wife it was the last time." BBC