Gulf News

Pilot may have survived crash

ENGINEERS AND OFFICIALS SAYS AIRCRAFT’S CONDITION DID NOT LEAD TO TRAGEDY

- By Nasser Arrabyee Correspond­ent

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.

Vigil

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.

 ??  ?? Grief Relatives of passengers of the ill-fated Yemenia A310-300, leave Marseille airport.
Grief Relatives of passengers of the ill-fated Yemenia A310-300, leave Marseille airport.

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