Bahia Bakari was just 12 years old when the Yemen Airway flight she was taking with her mother crashed.
On the 30 June 2009 the pair were flying from Paris to Comoros, off the coast of eastern Africa, to attend a wedding.
However, upon descending the plane crashed into the sea, leaving 141 passengers and 11 crew members dead – Bakari was the only survivor.
Now, 25-year-old Bakari has given a testimony reflecting on what happened that day, as Yemen’s national air carrier – now known as Yemenia – is facing charges of manslaughter and unintentional injuries as a result of the crash.
Speaking in the Paris court this past Monday (23 May), Bakari explained how passengers were ‘exhausted’ on the night flight.
“We were landing, I started to feel some turbulence, but people didn’t seem worried about it. Then I felt an electrical shock and I woke up in the water. I don’t remember what happened between sitting in the plane and being in the water. I have a black hole.”
The plane crashed into the water, and Bakari grabbed a piece of debris and used it to keep afloat, as reported by ABC News.
She was in the water for 11 hours before she was rescued by fishermen.
Bakari said that she remembers hearing ‘female voices which screamed for help in Comorian’ but that she fell asleep and woke up alone.
Waiting in the water for some kind of help, Bakari said:
“It was so long. I almost gave up. I almost lost hope. Thinking about my mom helped me to hold up. I convinced myself that everyone except me made it home safe.”
Thankfully, the young girl was rescued from the water and taken to Moroni hospital, before being taken to France.
She had sustained a broken collarbone, hip, and other injuries during the crash.
Recounting the heart-wrenching experience, Bakari said:
“I don’t suffer any physical effects, but my mother is gone. I was very close to her.”
Bakari didn’t go to therapy following the crash, but her family helped her through.
With the survivor affirming that she is doing ‘much better now’ and has since resumed flying but still struggles to feel at ease in the water.
Bakari’s testimony comes as the airline faces a new fine of up to €225,000 (around £191,000) in relation to the crash.
Previously, the airline was ordered to pay over €30 million (around £25 million) to the families of the victims.
In 2018, the airline signed a confidential agreement with the families.