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Teenage girl survives Comoros crash, in hospital

 The Ambassador in France for the Comoros Islands Abdallah Mirghane, right, flanked with French politician Daniel Goldberg, left, shows the list of pa...
 Unidentified relatives of passengers react , after being shown  the list of passengers on board a Yemenia jet, during a statement for the Comoros Isl...

FRANCE YEMEN PLANE CRASH

The Ambassador in France for the Comoros Islands Abdallah Mirghane, right, flanked with French politician Daniel Goldberg, left, shows the list of pa...

FRANCE YEMEN PLANE CRASH

Unidentified relatives of passengers react , after being shown the list of passengers on board a Yemenia jet, during a statement for the Comoros Isl...

A 14-year-old girl was rescued alive in the sea amid debris and dead bodies after a Yemeni Airbus jet crashed in the Indian Ocean as it tried to land in the Comoros islands with 153 people aboard.

The A310 had aborted a landing and was making a second attempt when it crashed, officials said, as French authorities questioned the carrier's safety record saying the 19-year-old jet had been banned from France's airspace.

Bodies and wreckage from the Yemenia airline flight were spotted in the sea near the archipelago's capital, Moroni, aviation officials said. A Yemeni official reported an oil slick in the waters.

The teenager, the sole survivor so far among the 142 passengers and 11 crew on Flight IY 626, was in hospital and her condition was "not worrisome," said Ramulati Ben Ali from the local Red Cross.

"The girl, aged 14, has arrived at the El Maarouf hospital," Ben Ali said.

A policeman identified as one of the girl's rescuers told France's Europe 1 radio that the teenager was seen swimming in choppy waters in the middle of bodies and plane debris around 4:00 am (0100 GMT).

"We tried to throw a life buoy. She could not grab it. I had to jump in the water to get her," the rescuer said.

"She was shaking, shaking. We put four covers on her. We gave her hot, sugary water. We simply asked her name, village."

A Comoran government spokesman also confirmed that the girl is the only survivor so far and hailed from the southeastern village of Nioumadzaha.

" Officials said the plane crashed into rough seas in darkness, after disappearing from control tower radar screens at 1:51 am Tuesday (2251 GMT Monday).

"They are saying the plane was making its approach, that it pulled out of the approach and then tried another approach that went wrong," French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau told French radio.

The flight left Paris on Monday for Marseille and Sanaa, where passengers switched to the older Airbus jet to continue to Djibouti and Moroni.

Yemen's Transport Minister Khaled al-Wazir said the plane was technically sound and had "been overhauled in May 2009 and regularly flew to Europe.

French civil aviation officials said there were 66 French nationals on board, though many of passengers were likely to hold dual nationality. Three small babies were also among the passengers, officials said.

The Airbus 310 that crashed Tuesday was 19 years old, yet experts say older planes can keep going strong for years as long as companies are willing to invest what it takes to keep them sky-worthy.

"Aircraft are usually retired due to economics rather than due to wearing out," said Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, an international aviation safety think tank.

Analysts note that most of today's airliners can be kept flying almost indefinitely if regular inspections prescribed by the manufacturer are carried out. Although some airlines highlight in their advertising the newer aircraft in their fleets, newer and older planes tend to have similar safety records.

"This is an older aircraft. But older aircraft can operate safely for decades if provided with proper maintenance," said Capt. Harry Eggerschwiler, chief of operations for the African Civil Aviation Authority.

On Tuesday, the European Union's Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani said in Brussels that the airline had previously met EU safety checks and was not on the their blacklist of unsafe airlines — a blacklist that has over 190 airlines.


Updated : 2021-04-19 16:22 GMT+08:00