The only survivor spoke after 13 years… This is how the plane crash with Yemen Airways happened

The lone survivor of the 2009 crash of a Yemeni Airlines plane for the Comoros testified Monday at a trial that took place in Paris for the airline, accused of causing accidental deaths and injuries, in an accident that killed 152 people.

After Bahia Bakari, 25, took the stage, she smiled as she introduced herself, before starting to tell what happened on the night of the accident, from which she miraculously escaped, about 13 years ago.

She was twelve when she departed from Paris with her mother on June 29, 2009 before the plane stopped in Marseille, after which the passengers boarded the plane in Sana’a to spend a holiday in the Comoros.

This “second plane,” the A-310, was “smaller, had flies and had a strong toilet smell,” she said. But this “night flight went very normally” until the landing.

As I approached Moroni, the capital of the Comoros, “I started to feel turbulence, but nobody reacted unusually, so I told myself it’s normal,” she said.

Then: “I felt like there was an electric charge all over my body. I don’t remember anything between sitting on the plane and the moment I found myself in the water… Between the waves I saw wrecks in front of me I was stuck on the biggest of them and tried to climb on it, but it didn’t work.”

And she continued: “I heard voices calling for help in the language of the Comoros. I started screaming, but I didn’t have much hope because I realized that there was no one around me except seawater.”

“Eventually I slept clinging to the wreckage of the plane. When I woke up it was morning and it was completely silent.”

The girl saw the shore in the distance and tried to “reach it,” but “the sea was very rough,” as she put it, describing the “taste of kerosene” she felt in her mouth.

Bahia Bakari.. Archive

Bahia Bakari.. Archive

“I haven’t found a way to survive,” Bahiya said. But it was the thought of ‘my mother who was always my protector’ that kept her upright. Finally, fishermen rescued her after 12 hours in the water.

I thought “everyone got up” and that she was “the only one who fell” from the plane. But a “psychiatrist in the hospital” told her she was “the only one who survived.”

Born in Eson (near Paris) to Comorian parents on August 15, 1996, Bahia Bakari suffered fractures and burns to her legs.

After her transfer to France, the then President of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, visited her.

French justice immediately opened an investigation, as 66 Frenchmen were among the victims and the trial is taking place in Paris for the same reasons.

Experts concluded that the accident was the result of a series of errors attributed to the pilots, which precluded the hypothesis that the aircraft was hit by a missile or lightning strike, or that there was a technical malfunction.

Some of the victims' families are waiting to know what happened

Some of the victims’ families are waiting to know what happened

There was “negligence” on the part of the Yemeni airline operating Flight 626 as it made a mistake when it continued to operate night flights to Moroni despite old malfunctions in the airport’s lighting systems, as well as “gaps” in pilot training , according to “AFP”.

Since the start of the trial, the defendants’ seats have been empty and no company representative has been present because of the ongoing war in Yemen, the defense said.

In response to a question about this absence from a family lawyer, Bahia Bakari expressed her regret by saying, “I would have liked them to have listened to us” and “apologised”.

The trial against the Yemeni company is expected to end on June 2.

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