x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Memorial for air crash victim

Friends in Dubai will honour the memory of a woman killed on the Air France tragedy while returning from her honeymoon.

Ana Negra Barrabeig, one of the Air France victims, was to appear in a Spanish TV documentary.
Ana Negra Barrabeig, one of the Air France victims, was to appear in a Spanish TV documentary.

A memorial service for the Dubai woman lost in the Air France tragedy will be held in the city tonight. Ana Negra Barrabeig, 28, was returning from her honeymoon in Brazil when the aircraft carrying her and 227 others disappeared in a storm over the Atlantic Ocean.

Friends in the 1,000-strong Spanish community in Dubai have organised a service in her memory at St Francis of Assisi church in Jebel Ali at 8pm. Debris discovered late on Tuesday in the Atlantic has been confirmed as belonging to flight AF447, although the search for passengers continued in vain yesterday. It also emerged that Ms Barrabeig appeared in a documentary about the Spanish community in the UAE that was to be aired in the coming week.

The programme, Callejeros Viajeros (Street Travellers), had been due to air on the Spanish television channel Cuatro on Sunday night but has been withdrawn from the schedule at the request of Ms Barrabeig's family. It will be broadcast at a later date, and without the sequence featuring Ms Barrabeig. She lived in Dubai Marina, having moved to the UAE from her native Barcelona two and a half years ago.

She and her husband, Javier Alvarez, worked together at Oliver Wyman, a management consultancy firm in Dubai Media City. They married on May 6 at a celebrated vineyard in rural Catalonia that is owned by relatives of Ms Barrabeig, and flew to Brazil on honeymoon soon after. Ms Barrabeig left Rio de Janeiro for Paris on flight AF447 a few hours before her husband, who flew direct from Sao Paulo to Dubai to return to work early. She had been due to visit her family in Barcelona for a few days before returning to the UAE.

One Spanish news network reported that she had changed her flight from Brazil only days before Monday's accident. Mr Alvarez knew nothing of his wife's disappearance until he arrived in Dubai, where he was met by a medical team and friends. He flew out to Spain on Tuesday. Enrique, a cousin of Ms Barrabeig, told ABC News in Spain yesterday: "The family just hopes her body is found. What can I say? She was a great student, and athlete too - the best."

Aircraft from Brazil, France and the US left north-eastern Brazil yesterday morning to search for wreckage. Investigators are hoping to locate the Airbus A330's "black box" flight data recorders, which may explain why the jet crashed. However, they may be lying in ocean waters as deep as 6,000 metres. The director of the French air investigation agency, Paul-Louis Arslanian, said he was "not totally optimistic" the boxes would be recovered from the "deep and mountainous" place into which they are thought to have sunk.

"We can't rule out not finding the recorders," he told a news conference in Paris, adding that, even if they were found, there was no guarantee the speed and altitude data and cockpit recordings would be enough to solve the mystery. The first Brazilian vessel arrived on the scene yesterday, joining three cargo ships from France and the Netherlands that were rerouted to the area. A naval mission was launched after debris was spotted off Brazil's coast, and ships heading to the zone are carrying two mini-submarines, the best hope of tracking down the boxes, which ought to emit a location signal.

* The National, with agencies