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Yemeni jet carrying 153 crashes off Comoros

June 30, 2009|Reuters

MORONI, COMOROS — An airliner belonging to Yemeni state carrier Yemenia that was carrying 153 people crashed into choppy seas as it came in to land on the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros today, officials said.

"Not yet," an airline official told Reuters when asked whether the carrier had information about survivors, adding that the 142 passengers included nationals of France and the Comoros.

The Airbus 310 aircraft that also carried 11 crew members was en route from Sana, Yemen, to Moroni, the Comoros' capital, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Comoros Vice President Idi Nadhoim said, "The plane has crashed, and we still don't know exactly where. We think it's in the area of Mitsamiouli."

A Paris airport spokeswoman said a Yemenia flight left Monday morning before landing in Yemen and then taking off for Moroni.

Ibrahim Kassim, a representative from regional air security body ASECNA said the plane had probably gone down three to six miles from the coast, and civilian and military boats had been mobilized to start searching.

"We think the crash is somewhere along its landing approach," Kassim said. "The weather is really not very favorable. The sea is very rough."

ASECNA -- the Agency for Aviation Security and Navigation in Africa and Madagascar -- covers Francophone Africa.

The town of Mitsamiouli is on the main island, Grande Comore.

"There is a crash, there is a crash in the sea," said an unnamed official who answered the phone at the Yemenia office in Moroni. He declined further comment.

An airline official in Yemen declined to comment.

Interior Minister Hamid Bourhane said the army had sent small speedboats to an area between the village of Ntsaoueni and the airport.

"At the moment we don't have any information about whether there are any survivors," he said.

Yemenia is 51% owned by the Yemeni government and 49% owned by the Saudi Arabian government.

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