MORONI-An airliner with 150 people on board belonging to Yemeni state carrier Yemenia crashed in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros Tuesday, a senior government official said.
“We don’t know if there are any survivors among the 150 people on the plane,” Comoros vice-president Idi Nadhoim told Reuters from the airport at the main island’s capital Moroni.
Nadhoim said the accident happened in the early hours of Tuesday, but could not give any more details.
“There is a crash, there is a crash in the sea,” said an unnamed official who answered the phone in the Yemenia office in Moroni. He declined further comment.
An airline official in Yemen declined to comment.
Yemenia, which is 51 percent owned by the Yemeni government and 49 percent owned by the Saudi Arabian government, flies to Moroni, according to flight schedules on its Web site.
Yemenia’s fleet includes two Airbus 330-200s, four Airbus 310-300s and four Boeing 737-800s, according to the site.
The location of the crash was not immediately known, but a medical worker in the town of Mitsamiouli, on the main island Grande Comore, said he had been called into the local hospital.
“They have just called me to come to the hospital. They said a plane had crashed,” he told Reuters.
A Comoran police source said the plane was believed to have come down in the sea. “We really have no sea rescue capabilities,” he said.
The Comoros covers three small volcanic islands, Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli, in the Mozambique channel, 300 km (190 miles) northwest of Madagascar and a similar distance east of the African mainland.
A hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 crashed into the sea off the Comoros islands in 1996, killing 125 of 175 passengers and crew
(Reporting by Ahmed Ali Amir; Additional reporting by Richard Lough in Antananarivo; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and David Clarke; Editing by Jon Hemming)