A teenage girl who miraculously survived the Yemenia airliner crash off the Comoros was ejected from the plane into pitch-black Indian Ocean waters, her father said.
Arabic news agencies have broadcast pictures of what is thought to be the young girl. (AFP: ALARABIYA.NET )
Just hours ago, one of the black box flight recorders from the jet was located and a retrevial operation to is to begin shortly, officials said.
Rumours that a second child had been plucked from the waters off Comoros have been quickly denied.
"She didn’t feel a thing. She found herself in water," the girl’s father Kassim Bakari told French radio RTL, after speaking to his 13-year-old daughter Bahia from her hospital room in Moroni.
"She could hear people talking, but in the middle of the night she couldn’t see a thing. She managed to hold on to a piece of something," said the Comoran from the Paris suburbs, whose partner was also on board the doomed flight.
"She said she was ejected from the plane."
One rescuer told France’s Europe 1 radio that Bahia was spotted floating in the middle of bodies and plane debris about two hours after the crash.
"We tried to throw a life buoy. She could not grab it. I had to jump in the water to get her," the rescuer said.
"She was shaking, shaking. We put four covers on her. We gave her hot, sugary water. We simply asked her name, village."
So far the only survivor among the 153 people on board the Yemenia airliner, the teenager escaped without serious injuries from the crash as the jet tried to land at Moroni airport at the end of a four-stage flight from France.
Also speaking on RTL, the head of the crisis cell in the Comoros said the teenager survived astonishing odds.
"It is truly, truly, miraculous," said Ibrahim Abdoulazeb. "The young girl can barely swim."
Mr Bakari said he had no hope of seeing his partner or daughter again upon learning of the crash.
"She is a very, very shy girl. I would never have thought she would have survived like this. I can’t say that it’s a miracle, I can say that it is God’s will," he said.
He said his daughter, who was being treated for mild burn injuries and was expected shortly to be flown home to France on a ministerial plane, had been told her mother survived the crash.
"When I spoke to her she was asking for her mother. They told her she was in a room next door, so as not to traumatise her. But it’s not true. I don’t know who is going to tell her."
Though a full list has not yet been published, a Yemeni official said there were also nationals from Canada, Comoros, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, the Philippines and Yemen on board.
Comoran officials said France had sent a plane and was also moving two ships into the area where the plane crashed, while the United States had sent a helicopter to help, and a plane with supplies.