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Girl rescued from Indian Ocean but 152 feared dead

A teenage girl has been rescued from the Indian Ocean, the only apparent survivor from an airliner crash off the coast of east Africa in which 152 people are feared dead.

The 14-year-old, whose first name is Bahia, was found floating 10 miles out to sea from the Comoros islands off where the Airbus A310 operated by Yemenia Air was trying to land.A Yemenia Air official said the plane, which authorities believe crashed in the early hours, had 142 passengers and 11 crew members on board.About one third of the passengers are believed to be French.

“We still do not have information about the reason behind the crash or survivors,” Mohammad al-Sumairi, an official from Yemenia Air told Reuters. “The weather conditions were rough; strong wind and high seas. The wind speed recorded on land at the airport was 61km an hour. There could be other factors,” he said.

Most of the passengers on the Yemenia Air Airbus 310 were believed to be Comoros residents returning from Paris. The plane had stopped off in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on the way to Moroni, the capital on the main island of the Comoros archipelago.

Military and civilian boats are helping in the search.


Ibrahim Kassim, a representative from Asenca, the regional air security body, said the plane was believed to have come down between 5-10km from the coast.

“We think the crash is somewhere along its landing approach,” he said. “The weather is really not very favourable. The sea is very rough.”

French military planes from the Indian Ocean islands of Mayotte and Réunion are also taking part in the operation, and the army has sent speedboats to the area.

A Paris airport spokeswoman said a Yemenia flight left Paris yesterday morning.

Comoros, a Yemeni state, covers three small volcanic islands, Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli, in the Mozambique channel, about 1,800 miles south of Yemen, between Africa’s south-eastern coast and Madagascar.

The Yemenia plane is the second Airbus to crash into the sea this month, and follows the Air France Airbus A330-200 that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing 228 people on board on 1 June.