Thirteen-year-old Bahia Bakari survived the unimaginable. The other 153 people aboard Yemenia Airlines Flight 626 did not.
She remembers the moments before the crash sitting next to her mother.
“I looked out the porthole and the plane started to shake. They didn’t tell us there was going to be a crash,” Bahia recalls.
The flight originated in Paris on June 29th and stopped in Yemen where the Airbus 330 was swapped for a 19-year-old Airbus 310, before it continued on to the small African nation of Comoros.
In the middle of the night, over the Indian Ocean, the plane went down.
“I felt the water around me. I found myself in the ocean. I don’t know how it happened, I didn’t see my mother.”
In pitch darkness, Bakari clung to debris from the plane and floated alone in shark-infested waters. She was unable to swim.
“I heard women crying near me, others were alive in the water but I couldn’t see them. I was too far away.”
“The voices soon faded. Eight hours later small fishing boat spotted the little girl. Her only injuries were a few bruises and a broken collar bone.”
Bakari flew back to Paris to be reunited with her father. In the hospital doctors broke the terrible news.
“A psychologist came to see me and said, ‘I don’t think your mother is coming.’ I was the only one alive. Then I understood.”