On 29 Jun 2009 Yemenia flight IY626 crashed with 153 on board 14km north of the the Comoran archipelago, at 2251 GMT (in local time at 1:51 am on the 30th June). The aircraft was 15 minutes from landing in Moroni, the capital of the Comoros, when it crashed into the sea. Weather conditions were stormy, with winds gusting as high as 113 kilometers per hour. The passengers had travelled from Paris to Sana’a (the capital of Yemen)on a Yemenia Airbus A330 that had a stopover in Marseille. They were then transferred to the Airbus A310 for the leg of the flight from Sana’a to the Moroni.
People on board included 142 passengers (including 3 babies) and 11 crew
A 12-year-old girl, Bahia Bakari, survived the crash - there are no other known survivors at this stage. Despite a fractured collarbone, the youngster who can “barely swim” clung to wreckage for hours until rescuers found her swimming in choppy waters amid dead bodies and debris, and as she could not grab the life buoy thrown to her, Sgt. Said Abdilai jumped in to get her. Bahia lives in Marseille, a city in the south of France, and was travelling with her mother to visit relatives in the Comoros' southeastern village of Nioumadzaha. After the rescue she was taken to El Mararouf hospital in the Comoros capital of Moroni, and flown back to Paris on the 1st July 2009.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, dispatched planes & ships from Reunion Island to assist with the search.
One of the black boxes was located on the 30th June 2009 at 1230 GMT (4:30 pm local time) by a military aircraft, 40km from Grande Comore.
The Yemenia aircraft in flight IY626 was an Airbus A310, a twin-engined aircraft which had been built in 1990 and had flown 51,900 hours in the air on some 17,300 flights. The plane had been operated by Yemenia since 1999.
The Airbus A310 which crashed had been barred from flying in France after a 2007 inspection by DGAC (French civil aviation authority) . The European Commission had almost put Yemenia Airlines on its blacklist after investigating safety standards in 2008.
This is the second crash involving an Airbus manufactured aircraft in the month - on 1 June 2009 Air France flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on its way from Brazil to Paris. The A31O is an earlier version of an Airbus than the A330, incororating fewer fly-by-wire features.
Yemenia, also known as Yemen Airways, is the state carrier of Yemen. Yemenia is 49%t by the Saudi Arabian government and 51% owned by the Yemeni government.