Comoros crash survivor reunites with father

The sole survivor of a Yemeni jet that plunged into deep water while attempting to land on the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros was reunited with her father back in France early on Thursday.

Bahia Bakari, who can barely swim, clung on to floating debris for more than 12 hours before search teams spotted her struggling in rough seas.

“I am torn between relief and sadness. I am happy to see my daughter, but her mother did not come back,” Bahia’s father, Bakari Kassim, told reporters at Roissy Airport in Paris, shortly after greeting his daughter on her return from Comoros.

Rescuers have failed to find any of the remaining 152 passengers and crew since the Yemenia Airbus A310 crashed in rough weather in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

American and French military aircraft continued to scour the crash site on Thursday as hopes of another miracle find faded fast and efforts turned towards locating the wreckage thought to be in waters up to 500m deep.

Local doctors, who marvelled at Bakari’s escape with little more than cuts, bruises and a fractured collar bone, said she was discharged on her father’s request.

“It was on the demand of her father in France. The girl was regaining her spirit and was in a satisfactory physical state,” said Dr Jean Youssef, lead doctor at the disaster unit on Grand Comore.

Television images showed her lying weakly in a poorly equipped intensive care bed, unaware her mother had died in the crash.

Youssef said Moroni’s El Marouf Hospital lacked the facilities needed to properly scan the teenager’s body for any internal damage.

Bakari returned to France on a French government jet with French Cooperation Secretary Alain Joyandet.

Local rescuers suspect many of the dead remained trapped inside the doomed plane and say the search effort should focus on finding the wreck.

“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,” disaster centre member Ibrahim Abdourazak told Reuters.

The cause of the crash is still unknown, officials say.

The French Defence Ministry denied on Wednesday reports by the state-run airline that the flight recorder—the so called black-box—had been found.

The aircraft, which was on the final leg of a trip from Paris and Marseille, was the second Airbus to crash into the sea in a month.

The airline said there were 75 Comoran passengers on board, along with 65 French nationals, one Palestinian and one Canadian. The crew comprised of six Yemenis, two Moroccans, one Indonesian, one Ethiopian and a Filipina.—Reuters

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