Rescue teams are searching the Indian Ocean off of Yemen, where a passenger jet carrying 153 people went down today. There are reports a 5 year old boy was found alive floating in the ocean. But now those reports are in question.
The plane crashed as it was descending in heavy winds for landing about 12 miles off the coast of the city of Moroni. The Yemenia Aiways flight originated in Paris, and stopped in Marseille, where the crew and passengers changed planes, to an Airbus A310-300. It then stopped in the Yemeni capital of Sana before continuing to Moroni, on the main island of Grand Comore.
Reports said the five year old boy was taken to a hospital. Later reports said it was actually a 14 year old girl. Neither report could be confirmed. Several bodies have also been spotted among the debris.
The plane that crashed had technical problems in the past. French transportation minister, Dominique Bussereau said:
"The A310 in question was inspected in 2007 by the DGAC (French civil aviation authority) and they noticed a certain number of faults."
The plane had not returned to France since the inspection. The European Union has the power to ban airlines from its skies if they don't pass safety inspections. Last year, the air safety committee asked Yemenia to take unspecified corrective actions to improve its safety performance. The airline subsequently passed the checks to avoid being added to blacklist. The International Air Transport Association also said Tuesday that Yemenia had passed a safety audit by its inspectors in the spring of 2008. As far as the plane that crashed, Antonio Tajani, the European Union’s Transport commissioner, said:
“We cannot control what happens outside the European Union.”
But Yemen’s transportation minister, Khaled Ibrahim al-Wazeer, told Reuters that the plane that crashed had undergone a thorough inspection in May under supervision by experts from Airbus.
“It was a comprehensive inspection carried out in Yemen. It was in line with international standards.”
Yemenia Airways actually has an excellent safety record. This is the first fatal crash for the airline since it was founded in 1972.
The accident is the second major crash involving an Airbus jet flying to or from France this month. On June 1, an Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed in the Atlantic, killing all 228 people aboard.