Article published on the 2009-06-30 Latest update 2009-06-30 13:15 TU
Rescue boats from the Comoros and Madagascar have been searching the scene of the crash of Yemenia flight 626.
"The plane crashed in the early hours of the morning several nautical miles off the Comoros islands, with 142 passengers and 11 crew aboard," said a Yemenia official.
The flight started in Paris, picking up passengers in Marseilles, before heading to Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, where everyone changed planes to the Airbus A310, which left for Moroni, the capital of the Comoros, via Djibouti. The aircraft was due to land around 11 pm GMT on Monday.
Most of the passengers were Comoran. According to airport officials, 66 French nationals were on board the plane when it crashed.
There was no immediate information about the cause of the crash of the Airbus A310 plane. A Yemeni aviation official said the plane hit stormy conditions.
"Weather conditions were bad, with winds gusting up to 61 knots," Mohammad Abdel Kader, a senior civil aviation official told reporters. "The sea was rough."
The French transport minister, Dominique Bussereau, told the French television channel i-télé that French authorities had been keeping an eye on the airline, and that "numerous defects were observed" in the plane itself.
A Yemeni team left on Tuesday to investigate the crash. France is sending two navy ships and a plane with divers and medical staff and supplies.
The crash comes almost a month after another Airbus, Air France flight 447, crashed into the Atlantic ocean, flying from Brazil to France, killing the 228 people on board.
Yemenia has two emergency contact numbers: +967-1250-800, +967-1250-833.