Sat, Jul 04, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Crash survivor reunited with father

AP , LE BOURGET, FRANCE

Bahia Bakari, 12, right, rests on Thursday as she is brought back to France on a French government plane in this picture made a from video broadcast. She is believed to be the only survivor of the Yemenia Airbus 310 crash on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AP

A severely bruised young girl believed to be the only survivor of an Indian Ocean plane crash has flown back to Paris, where she was embraced gently by her father.

Bahia Bakari, 12, returned to France from the Comoros Islands on a French government plane. The Falcon-900 jet with medical facilities left the archipelago nation, a former French colony, and arrived on Thursday at Le Bourget airport just north of Paris.

Yemenia Flight 626 crashed on Tuesday morning off Comoros. Bahia, described by her father as a fragile girl who could barely swim, spent more than 13 hours in the water clinging to a piece of wreckage. She had a fractured collarbone and widespread bruises.

The other 152 people on the plane, including her mother and others from France’s large Comoran community, are presumed dead.

Television station France 2 carried a brief interview with Bahia on the plane coming home on Thursday. She appeared dazed and gave mostly one-word answers. Asked how she felt, the teenager, who could barely open one of her black-and-blue eyes, replied faintly “Well.”

When asked if she is worried, she said: “A little bit, a little bit.”

Bahia’s father, Kassim, met her as she arrived, saying he was relieved and overjoyed to see his daughter even as he mourned his wife.

“It was very powerful,” he said of his reunion with Bahia.

He said he asked her, “‘How are you? Was the return trip OK?’ ... We joked a little, the two of us.”

“I took her in my arms and I embraced her, but not too strongly because her collarbone is injured,” he said later on France-24 television.

An official said Bahia was told “that her mother is missing. She is facing up to this event in a very brave way.”

“She says instructions were given to passengers and that then she felt something like electricity ... as if she had been a bit electrocuted,” he said. “And suddenly there was this big sound. She found herself in the water.”

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