Fri, Jul 03, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Traumatized plane crash survivor returns to France

AP AND THE GUARDIAN , LE BOURGET, France AND NAIROBI

Kassim Bakari, father of 14-year-old Franco-Comoran girl Bahia, attends a news conference at the Le Bourget airport near Paris yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

A French government plane carrying the young girl believed to be the only survivor of an Indian Ocean plane crash arrived at a Paris airport from Comoros yesterday.

Bahia Bakari, 14, was brought back to France on the plane carrying a government minister and other French officials. The Falcon-900 jet with medical facilities aboard arrived at Le Bourget airport just north of Paris shortly after 8am.

An emergency ambulance drove up to the aircraft and she was expected to be taken to a hospital.

At the foot of the aircraft was her father, Kassim, as well as several other members of her family.

Bakari had boarded a plane in Paris with her mother, Aziza, on Monday morning for the long, to Comoros, where they planned to spend part of the summer holidays with relatives. Her three siblings had stayed behind with her father.

Flight IY 626 crashed on Tuesday morning in severe turbulence.

When found hanging on to a piece of the plane, Bakari was suffering from hypothermia, a broken collarbone and bruises.

Bakari told her father she was thrown clear of the Yemenia Airbus A310 when it crashed.

The girl’s father told French news outlets that he had spoken to his daughter on the telephone yesterday: “I asked her what happened and she said, ‘We saw the plane fall in the water. I found myself in the water. I was hearing people speak but I couldn’t see anyone. I was in the dark. I couldn’t see anything. Daddy, I couldn’t swim very well. I grabbed on to something but I don’t know what.’”

Kassim Bakari, who has three other children, said that when he heard about the crash he thought he would never again see his wife and oldest daughter.

He said that his daughter had not yet been told that her mother was dead.

“They told her she was in a room next door, so as not to traumatize her. But it’s not true. I don’t know who is going to tell her,” he said.

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