Yemen Jet Crash Leaves Scores Dead; 1 Survives
Dzaeudzi, Comoros. A Yemenia jet with 153 people on board crashed into the Indian Ocean on Tuesday as it tried to land during strong winds on the island nation of Comoros. Officials said one child was plucked alive from the sea.
There was no word on other survivors. At least three bodies were recovered, the authorities said.
The crash comes two years after aviation officials reported faults with the aircraft, an Airbus 310 flying the last leg of a journey from Paris and Marseille to Comoros, with a stop in Yemen to change planes. Most of the passengers were from Comoros, a former French colony. Sixty-six on board were French nationals.
Yemenia officials said that one of the members of the 11-man crew was Indonesian, but the person was not identified.
A child was rescued from the water after the crash, according to Rachida Abdullah, a police immigration officer who works at the operations center in the Comoros, and Yemeni civil aviation deputy chief Mohammed Abdul Qader.
Qader said he was told the child was 5 years old. Further details on the rescue and the child’s condition were not immediately available.
Three bodies from the flight were retrieved along with debris from the plane, Abdullah said.
Qader said it was too early to speculate on the cause and the flight data recorder had not been found, but the wind was about 60 kilometers per hour as the plane was landing in the middle of the night.
The Yemenia plane was the second Airbus to crash into the sea in as many months. An Air France Airbus A330-200 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean May 31, killing all 228 people on board, as it flew from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
A crisis center once again was set up at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Many passengers were from the French city of Marseille, which has a large Comoros community.
“There is considerable dismay,’’ said Stephane Salord, the consul general of the Comoros in the Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur region of France. “These are families that, each year on the eve of summer, leave Marseille and the region to rejoin their families in the Comoros and spend their holidays.’’
In France, this week is the start of annual summer school vacations.
The Comoros is an archipelago of three main islands situated about 2,900 kilometers south of Yemen, between Africa’s southeastern coast and the island of Madagascar. It is a former French colony of 700,000 people.
Gen. Bruno de Bourdoncle de Saint-Salvy, the senior commander for French forces in the southern Indian Ocean, said the Airbus 310 crashed in deep waters about 14.5 kilometers north of the Comoran coast and 34 kilometers from the Moroni airport.
French aviation inspectors found a “number of faults’’ during a 2007 inspection of the plane that went down, French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau said on i-Tele television Tuesday.
In Brussels, EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani said the airline had previously met EU safety checks and was not on the bloc’s blacklist. But he said a full investigation was now being started amid questions why passengers were put on another jet in the Yemeni capital of San’a.
An Airbus statement said the plane that crashed went into service 19 years ago, in 1990, and had accumulated 51,900 flight hours. It has been operated by Yemenia since 1999. Airbus said it was sending a team of specialists to the Comoros. The A310-300 is a twin-engine widebody jet that can seat up to 220 passengers. There are 214 A310s in service worldwide with 41 operators.
Christophe Prazuck, French military spokesman, said a patrol boat and reconnaissance ship were being sent to the crash site as well a military transport plane. The French were sending divers as well as medical personnel, he said. French President Nicolas Sarkozy “expressed his deep emotion’’ about the crash.
Some of the World’s Most Deadly Airline Accidents
June 30, 2009: Yemenia Airbus 310 en route to the Comoros Islands crashes in the Indian Ocean. 153 people were on board.
1, 2009: Air France Airbus A330 runs into thunderstorms over the
Atlantic after leaving Brazil and disappears. 228 people on board.
Feb. 19, 2003: Iranian Revolutionary Guard military plane crashes into a mountain. 275 dead.
May 25, 2002: China Airlines Boeing 747 breaks apart midair and crashes into the Taiwan Strait. 225 dead.
12, 2001: American Airlines Airbus A300 crashes after takeoff from John
F. Kennedy Airport into the New York City borough of Queens. 265 dead,
including people on the ground.
Oct. 31, 1999: EgyptAir Boeing 767 crashes off Nantucket; actions by the co-pilot blamed. 217 dead.
Sept. 2, 1998: Swissair MD-11 crashes off Nova Scotia. 229 dead.
Feb. 16, 1998: China Airlines Airbus A300 crashes on landing at airport in Taipei, Taiwan. 203 dead.
Sept. 26, 1997: Garuda Indonesia Airbus A300 crashes near airport in Medan, North Sumatra. 234 dead.
Aug. 6, 1997: Korean Air Boeing 747-300 crashes on landing in the US territory of Guam. 228 dead.
Nov. 12, 1996: Saudi Boeing 747 collides with Kazakh cargo plane near New Delhi. 349 dead.
July 17, 1996: TWA Boeing 747 explodes and crashes into the Atlantic off Long Island, New York. 230 dead.
April 26, 1994: China Airlines Airbus A300 crashes on landing at Nagoya Airport in Japan. 264 dead.
Dec. 12, 1985: Arrow Air DC-8 crashes after takeoff from Newfoundland, Canada. 256 dead.
12, 1985: Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 crashes into a mountainside after
losing part of its tail fin. 520 dead in the world’s worst single-plane
Aug. 19, 1980: Saudi Tristar makes emergency landing in Riyadh and bursts into flames. 301 dead.
May 25, 1979: American Airlines DC-10 crashes after takeoff from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. 275 dead.
Jan. 1, 1978: Air India 747 crashes into the ocean after takeoff from Mumbai. 213 people dead.
27, 1977: KLM 474 and Pan American 747 collide on runway in Tenerife,
Canary Islands. 583 dead in world’s worst airline disaster. AP