The first survivor of the Airbus plane that crashed into the Indian Ocean near the Comoros islands off the East African coast has been found, reports the news agency AFP.
The A310 operated by Yemenia, the national airline of Yemen, disappeared with 153 people onboard just weeks after the Air France disaster.
Authorities reported that three bodies and pieces of wreckage have been found so far, and oil was also spotted floating on the ocean surface about 110km away from the Comoros islands coastline. It is as yet unclear how many people survived the crash.
According to Comorian Vice President Idi Nadhoim the tragedy occurred in the early hours. The plane crashed in bad weather five to ten kilometres from the islands’ capital, Moroni, as it tried to land.
It is the second Airbus to crash in just four weeks following the tragedy of AF447.
A UN worker at the airport in Moroni said the plane had contacted airport control and was ready to begin landing – but then contact was lost.
Flight IY626 was flying from the Yemeni capital Sanaa and had 142 passengers, including numerous transit passengers from France, and 11 crew members.
The majority of people onboard were from the Comoros islands. Three small children were also on the plane.
There are currently no signs of survivors. Interior minister Hamid Bourhane said: “At the moment we don’t have any information about whether there are any survivors.”
A crisis centre has been set up at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
Hadschi Mohammed Ali, director of the airport in Moroni, said speed boats and fishing boats had been sent to search the area. Madagascar is also helping the search with its own ships.
France plans to send several vessels and planes from Reunion and Mayotte islands.
Rescue conditions are difficult. Air security expert Ibrahim Kassim said: “The weather is really not very favourable. The sea is very rough.”
The exact cause of the crash is unknown. According to one French aviation expert, Airbus A310 planes have had dozens of small incidents in the past.
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