Child found alive after plane crashes in sea
A massive rescue effort was under way Tuesday after a young child was found among the wreckage of a downed Yemeni jet off the coast of Comoros in the Indian Ocean, CNN reported.
Relatives of passengers of the plane that crashed await news at Marseille airport in southern France.
"One child is alive and we hope to find more," Yemenia Airways chairman Capt. Abdulkhalek al-Kadi told CNN. The child has been taken to a hospital.
The French Navy is sending ships and a plane to help Yemeni authorities try to find any more survivors, he said.
The Yemenia Airways flight went down early Tuesday in rough weather, carrying 153 people en route to the island nation of Comoros from Yemen's capital, Sanaa.
A reconnaissance plane spotted traces of the Airbus A310-300 in waters off the town of Mitsamiouli early Tuesday, said Comoros Vice President Idi Nadhoim. Comoros is off the coast of east Africa, between Tanzania and Madagascar.
Al-Kadi blamed the crash on bad weather, noting that there were "high seas and windy weather" at the time.
It is the second crash involving an Airbus jet in a month. On June 1, an Air France Airbus A330 crashed off Brazil while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, France. All 228 aboard are presumed dead. The cause remains under investigation.
Former pilot and aviation analyst Capt. John Cox said there are no similarities between the two incidents.
"These are two dramatically different airplanes flown by two different airlines," Cox told CNN's "American Morning."
"The accidents happened at two different regimes of flight. And Airbus has hundreds of millions of hours flying safely. I don't believe that ... we can draw any conclusions because the manufacturer was the same in these two very different types of accidents."
At first, Comoros officials said there were no signs of survivors among the dead bodies floating in the choppy waters. But then rescuers found the young child.
Cox said it reminded him of the 1987 crash of Northwest Flight 255 in Detroit, Michigan in which only a 4-year-old girl survived, while 156 others died.
"This has come up before and it's where the toddler was seated (during the impact) that allowed them to survive," he said.
"It's a miracle and I'm glad ... the toddler is safe. I'm just saddened for the loss of everybody else," he added.
The Yemeni crash occurred as the plane approached the Hahaya airport in Comoros' capital, Moroni. The plane tried to land, then performed a U-turn before it crashed, Nadhoim said. Officials did not know why the plane could not land, he said.
There were 142 passengers and 11 crew members aboard, Yemenia Air officials said.
Flight 626 left Sanaa Monday at 9:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) for what was expected to be a four-and-a-half-hour flight. The airline has three regular flights a week to Moroni, off the east coast of Africa, about 2,900 km (1,800 miles) south of Yemen.
The crash occurred about 1:30 a.m., Nadhoim said.
An official at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris said there were 66 French passengers aboard.
There was no indication of foul play behind the crash, the official in Yemen said.
Yemenia Air had used the jet since 1999 on about 17,300 flights, Airbus officials said. The company said it would assist in investigating the crash.
"The concerns and sympathy of the Airbus employees go to the families, friends and loved ones affected by the accident," the company said in a statement.
In the wake of the Air France crash on June 1, United States accident investigators have been probing two recent failures of airspeed and altitude indications aboard Airbus A330s.
One flight was between the United States and Brazil in May and the other between Hong Kong and Japan in June. The planes landed safely and there were no injuries or damage, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.