Relatives of Plane Crash Victims Travel to Comoros

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

PARIS (AP) - Relatives of those killed when a Yemenia Airways plane crashed two weeks ago traveled Monday to the Comoros Islands in hopes of finding peace after their losses, officials said.

Authorities, meanwhile, were still investigating the cause of the June 30 crash, from which a 12-year-old girl was the only survivor out of 153 aboard.

Yemenia chartered a French airplane on Monday to fly relatives of the victims of Yemenia Airways Flight 626 to the Indian Ocean islands. Yemenia's insurance company paid for the trip.

One passenger, Madaly Aicha, said before the flight left Paris that traveling to Comoros was the only way she could accept that her mother was lost in the crash.

"I feel that once I'm there I can really properly mourn her ... for now she is only away," Aicha told Associated Press Television News.

Flight 626 went down on June 30 near Comoros, where it was to land in the city of Moroni after having taken off from San'a, Yemen. Many had been from the French Comoran community and had originally boarded the flight in Paris or in the southern French town of Marseille.

Monday's flight bringing relatives to mourn near the crash site was carrying around 180 people, including a French ambassador acting as intermediary and many who had boarded the plane during astop in Marseille, according to the French Foreign Ministry. It said the plane would land Monday night in Comoros, and would be followed by a second one next week.

Investigators have found wreckage from Flight 626 near the coasts of Tanzania and Kenya, Yemen's aviation accident committee said.

It said 27 bodies have been recovered. But Yemenia's public relations head Khaled al-Keinai put the number at only 20. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy in numbers; al-Keinai said the bodies were in French custody and were not being handled by Yemeni authorities.

The French navy was sending a ship and underwater robots to help
search for the plane's black boxes, French Foreign Ministry
spokesman Eric Chevallier said, adding that the ship's search would
begin first on Friday. The robots would be put into action once authorities can determine how deep the wreckage might lie.

Investigators have reportedly concluded that the black boxes - the plane's cockpit voice and flight data recorders - lie in waters too deep for divers and are awaiting specialized robots that can operate underwater.

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