Pilot may have survived crash
ENGINEERS AND OFFICIALS SAYS AIRCRAFT’S CONDITION DID NOT LEAD TO TRAGEDY
Sana’a A five-year-old girl and another person were found alive among 93 bodies plucked from the Indian Ocean where a Yemeni plane crashed yesterday with 153 people on board, said Mohammad Abdul Rahman, spokesman for Yemenia and deputy chairman of the General Authority of Yemeni Civil Aviation said.
At a press conference here, Abdul Rahman said 93 dead bodies including 26 French, 54 Comoros, a Palestinian and a Canadian and the 11-member crew, were recognised.
The crew included six Yemenis, two Moroccan stewardesses and three other stewardesses: an Indonesian, Ethiopian and Filipina. The Yemeni pilot was identified as Khalid Hajeb and his assistant Ali Atef and engineer Ali Salem Al Qubati.
“A survivor was found in a state of shock,” said Adul Rahman, without mentioning his nationality.
Unconfirmed information says the survivor was the captain, Khalid Hajeb, who was born in Aden in 1964. Hajeb, who was among the hostages during the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last November, is a father of three children.
Asked about the causes of the accident, the spokesman asked journalists to wait for the results of the investigations. The official said the stricken aircraft entered into service 18 years ago.
According to sources, the aircraft, which crashed early yesterday while flying from Sana’a to Moroni in the Comoros, flew seven times since Monday. The sources said the ill-fated plane flew on Monday from Paris with 59 passengersd to Marseille, where it took another 59 passengers. Then it flew to Cairo to take on 11 passengers, and three from Jeddah and one passenger from Dubai.
The crash occurred in the seventh flight, IY626, which took off at 9:45pm from Sana’a to Moroni with 153 passengers on board, mostly from France and the Comoros. Airport officials said the plane disappeared from radar screens at 1:50am yesterday.
French authorities said the Yemeni carrier had been under surveillance and that problems had been reported with the jet.
However, Mohammad Al Sumairi, deputy director of Yemenia, said it was inspected only last month.
“The plane was inspected comprehensively on May 2, according to international standards,” he told reporters in Sana’a.
On his part, Mohammad Omar, chairman of the syndicate of engineers of Yemenia, said, “The long trip and age of the plane have nothing to do with the accident.” Omar said bad weather may have caused the crash.
Yemen sent a team of investigators to Moroni, led by the chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation and board chairman of Yemenia. The Minister of transportation, Khalid Al Wazeer, is chairing a crisis cell at Sana’a international airport.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Comoros and French presidents.
The fleet of Yemenia, owned by the Yemeni and Saudi governments, has about 16 jets including four Airbus A300-310s and six relatively news Airbus planes. The rest are Boeings.