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Yemeni jet survivor arrives in Paris

A 12-year-old girl who survived a Yemeni airliner crash by clinging to wreckage in the Indian Ocean flew back to Paris on Thursday for an emotional reunion with her father.

world Updated: Jul 03, 2009 01:32 IST

A 12-year-old girl who survived a Yemeni airliner crash by clinging to wreckage in the Indian Ocean flew back to Paris on Thursday for an emotional reunion with her father.

The only known survivor among the 153 people on the Yemenia Airbus A310 jet, which crashed off the Comoro Islands on Tuesday, Bahia Bakari was repatriated on a French government plane.

In the Comoros, French and American divers on Thursday joined the hunt for wreckage and bodies, with the French military saying a rescue beacon had been detected. The plane is believed to have sunk more than 300 metres (1,000 feet) however.

Bakari arrived at Paris’ Le Bourget airport along with France’s Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet, where she was embraced by her father and relatives.

“She is doing well,” her father Kassim Bakari — who lost his partner in the crash — told reporters at the airport, saying he was “very, very grateful” to be reunited with his daughter.

Suffering from exhaustion, with a fractured collarbone and burns to her knee but no life-threatening injuries, Bahia was taken by ambulance straight to a Paris hospital.

Joyandet described the young girl as “astonishingly composed, very gentle, very sweet,” adding: “She really needs a few days rest. She will be recovering with her family. She just learned that she has lost her mother.”

Kassim Bakari said he was “torn between relief and sadness,” offering out his “condolences to all the victims of the crash,” in which 66 French nationals and many more French-based Comorans are feared dead.

Barely able to swim, Bahia was ejected into the ocean in pitch darkness when the Airbus plunged into the sea after attempting to land at Moroni airport.

Joyandet told reporters the child had explained that “some instructions were given, she felt like a jolt of electricity, then a loud noise and she found herself in the water.”