LE BOURGET, France – A young girl believed to be the only survivor of an Indian Ocean plane crash flew back to Paris from the Comoros Islands on Thursday to the waiting arms of her father and siblings.
Bahia Bakari, 14, was brought back to France on the plane carrying a government minister and other French officials. The Falcon-900 jet with medical facilities aboard left the archipelago nation of the Comoros, a former French colony, and arrived at Le Bourget airport just north of Paris shortly after 8 a.m.
Yemenia Flight 626 crashed Tuesday morning amid heavy winds, and Bahia, described by her father as a fragile girl who could barely swim, spent over 13 hours in the water before she was rescued.
The other 151 people on the plane, including her mother, are presumed dead.
Her father, Kassim, and several other members of her family met the plane in Paris. An emergency ambulance then took the girl to the Armand-Trousseau Children's Hospital in the east of the French capital.
"In the midst of the mourning, there is Bahia. It is a miracle, it is an absolutely extraordinary battle for survival," France's government minister for cooperation, Alain Joyandet, said at a news conference at the airport.
Bahia, the eldest of four children, had boarded a plane in Paris with her mother, Aziza, on Monday morning for a long journey via Marseille and San'a, Yemen, to Comoros where they planned to spend part of the summer school holidays with relatives. Her three siblings had stayed behind with her father.
When found hanging on to a piece of the plane, Bakari was suffering from hypothermia, a broken collarbone and bruises.
"It's an enormous message that she sends to the world ... almost nothing is impossible," said Joyandet, who accompanied the girl from the Comoros to France.
"We will do everything we can to help her," he said.
"She makes this tragedy different. Obviously we are thinking of all those families who are in mourning, there are 150 people who are currently missing. The Comoros and France are arm in arm to find out everything that happened," he said.