x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Yemenia black box signals detected

Search teams scouring the coast off the Comoros have detected a signal from the black boxes of the airliner that crashed last week.

Search teams scouring the Indian Ocean coast off the Comoros today detected a signal from the black boxes of the Yemenia airliner that crashed last week with 153 people on board, investigators said. French, Comoran, Yemeni and US teams stepped up efforts to locate the flight recorders that contain vital data needed to determine the cause of the crash. "Investigators from the BEA have detected a signal from the flight recorders," said the Comoran lead investigator Ali Abdou Mohamed in a statement received in Paris.

"The BEA confirms that a signal from the two boxes was detected this morning during underwater searches to locate the flight recorders of Flight IY 626," said a statement from the French BEA accident investigation agency. Comoran investigators said the search for the black boxes was continuing with French and Yemeni armed forces taking part. The Yemenia Airways Airbus A310 went down Tuesday in the Indian Ocean as it was approaching for landing on the Comoro Islands. A 12-year-old girl is the only survivor of the crash.

Yemenia has suspended some flights to the Comoros following the crash and has come under strong criticism over its safety standards, which it has rejected. Passengers of the ill-fated Yemenia flight took off from Paris and stopped over in Marseille on June 29 aboard a modern Airbus A330 but they switched in Sanaa to the older A310 jet to continue to Djibouti and Moroni. France had said a maintenance check in 2007 had revealed several problems and that the plane had not flown in French airspace since, but Yemen has rejected claims that the aircraft was unsafe.

France's large Comoran community has held large protests over the crash, drawing 10,000 people onto the streets of Marseille on Saturday to demand an end to "flying coffins." The French president Nicolas Sarkozy has named a former ambassador to Sudan to personally handle requests from grieving families while Comoros president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi has appealed for calm from members of the diaspora in France.

The flight recorders are designed to emit a locater beacon for around 30 days. At 37.5 kilohertz, the signal can be picked up by specialised listening devices although rough seas can distort the sound. Former pilot Robert Galan said finding the black boxes would provide a major boost to investigators ? in 90 per cent of the cases the data it contains allows them to determine the cause of a crash. Comorans are observing a 30-day period of national mourning, while 12-year-old Bahia Bakari, whose mother died in the crash, was recovering in a Paris hospital after she was flown back home by a government plane.

Bahia clung to a piece of plane debris for 10 hours before being pulled from the water. *AFP