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For some Comorians, the Yemenia Airways crash is no surprise

Warnings were raised two years ago about the downed Airbus. According to an immigrant safety advocate, 'We are put in trashy planes that do not meet the norms.'

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / June 30, 2009

Relatives of missing passengers aboard the Airbus A310-300 plane that crashed wait outside El-Maarouf national hospital in Moroni, Comoros, Tuesday. The plane from Yemen with 153 people on board, including 66 French nationals, crashed into the sea off the Indian Ocean archipelago as it approached in bad weather early on Tuesday, officials said.

Thomas Mukoya/REUTERS



The Yemenia Airways jet that crashed into the Indian Ocean off the island of Le Grande Comore early today, with 153 people on board, had previously been "banned" from France after an inspection in 2007 by French technicians found the aircraft to have "numerous defects," according to Dominique Bussereau, France's minister of transportation.

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The statement highlighted an early theme here after the Airbus A310-300, built in 1990, went down after a second attempt to land in the Comoros capital of Moroni: the lower standards and poor quality of aircraft that immigrant and ethnic populations living in Europe say they must endure.

The flight began in Paris aboard an Airbus A330, but passengers eventually changed planes. The flight stopped in Marseilles – a center of ethnic Comorians in France – then flew to Yemen's capital, Sana'a. There, passengers switched to the older A310 for a flight to Djibouti and then a hop to the island nation of Comoros, an archipelago off Madagascar and a former French colony.

'Trashy' planes for non-European flights?

Comorians, including Ali Mohammed of the Federation of Comorians in Marseilles, have long accused airlines of using new, well-maintained planes for flights between the Middle East and France, but then switching to older planes not maintained to European standards – aircraft that would not be allowed to land here.