Kin of Yemeni Jet Victims Visit Comoros

At least 150 family members of those who died on Yemenia Airways Flight 626 landed Monday in the Comoros Islands aboard a chartered French airplane, company officials said.

Yemenia organized the special flight for relatives of victims and its insurance company paid for it.

Flight 626 crashed June 30 on its way from San'a, Yemen, to Moroni, Comoros. A 12-year-old girl was the only one of the 153 people on the plane to survive. Many of those aboard were from the French Comoran community and had embarked in Paris or the southern French town of Marseille.

Madaly Aicha told Associated Press Television News at the airport in Paris that she was leaving for Comoros because it was the only way for her to 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 said Monday.

The plane made a short stop in Marseille to board more passengers. The Foreign Ministry has said the ambassador named to act as an intermediary for the relatives would travel with them.

Yemenia and French officials said the plane arrived in Comoros late Monday with 181 passengers on board. Khaled al-Keinai, head of the public relations at Yemenia, also said that all the bodies recovered so far were in French custody and that Yemeni authorities are not involved in handling them.


Yemen's aviation accident committee said investigators have found wreckage of the plane near the coast of Kenya and that 27 bodies have been recovered.

A French Foreign Affairs spokesman said Monday that the French navy was sending a ship and underwater robots to help in the search for the plane's black boxes.

Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said the ship's search would begin on Friday. He said the robots would come into action at a later date, according to how deep the plane's wreckage was thought to lie below the water.

A second plane of relatives is due to head to Comoros next week.