The teenage girl who is the only known survivor of this week’s airliner crash in the Comoros Islands arrived back in France on Thursday.
Bahia Bakari, 13, arrived at Paris’ Le Bourget airport early on Thursday morning on a French government plane and was met by her father. She is reported to have been transferred to an unnamed hospital suffering from shock and a broken collar bone. The Airbus A310 went down early Tuesday with 142 passengers and 11 crew members on board a flight that originated in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. The jet vanished from radar when it was about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Comoros’ capital, Moroni. Bakari was on the flight with her mother, whose body has not been found. The head of the rescue team in the Comoros told RTL radio the teenager survived astonishing odds to survive. “It is truly, truly, miraculous,” said Ibrahim Abdoulazeb. “The young girl can barely swim.” Read how people survive air crashes Another rescuer told France’s Europe 1 radio the girl was spotted in the rough sea among bodies and plane debris in darkness about two hours after the crash. Bahia’s father Kassim Bakari said he did not believe he would see his wife or daughter again after learning of the crash. “She is a very, very shy girl. I would never have thought she would have survived like this. I can’t say that it’s a miracle, I can say that it is God’s will,” he said. He said his daughter was 13. Other news outlets given different ages for the girl. Bakari said his daughter had been told her mother survived the crash. “When I spoke to her she was asking for her mother. They told her she was in a room next door, so as not to traumatize her. But it’s not true.” Watch more about Bahia’s escape » He described how his daughter was ejected from the plane into the Indian Ocean. “She didn’t feel a thing. She found herself in water,” he told French radio RTL. Watch as airline describes child’s rescue » “She could hear people talking, but in the middle of the night she couldn’t see a thing. She managed to hold on to a piece of something.”
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“She said she was ejected from the plane,” Bakari said. “When I had her on the phone, I asked her what happened and she said, ‘Daddy, I don’t know what happened, but the plane fell into the water and I found myself in the water … surrounded by darkness. I could not see anyone,'” Bakari said. Passengers on the flight included 66 French citizens, 54 Comorians, one Palestinian and one Canadian, according to Yemeni and French officials. The crew was made up of six Yemenis, two Moroccans, one Ethiopian, one Filipino and one Indonesian. The plane’s data recorders have yet to be found, Capt. Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Qadir, a spokesman for Yemen’s civil aviation department, said, but a number of potential contributing factors were beginning to appear. “The weather conditions were indeed very troubling and the winds were very strong, reaching 61 kilometers per hour (38 mph),” he said. “That’s one thing. The other thing was that the sea was very rough when the plane approached landing at Moroni airport.” But French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau noted that France banned the Airbus A310-300 several years ago because of safety concerns. “People are talking about poor weather conditions, but for the moment, we are unsure,” Bussereau said. “It seems the plane may have attempted an approach, put on the gas, and attempted another approach, which then failed. For the moment, we must be careful, because none of this information is verified.”