A headline in the Yemen Observer claims the Airbus was “possibly” hit by a French missile (scroll down the page if it doesn’t display properly). Unnamed sources at Yemenia and in the Comoros are reported as saying that this is not being ruled out.
Certainly a lot of things can’t be ruled out, but in the absence of further evidence a technical failure or pilot error are far more probable explanations at this stage.
The missile claim seems to have arisen because a Comorian official said French naval ships had been performing manoeuvres in the area the day before the crash. The French, who are working with teams from the US, Yemen and Comoros to retrieve bodies and wreckage, are now accused of trying to cover up the evidence.
The president of Comoros, Ahmad Abdullah Sambi, has reportedly said the French know exactly where the wreckage is located, but are directing divers to other areas.
With Europe now demanding a global blacklist of unsafe airlines, we can see where this is heading. Investigators will blame the pilot or poor maintenance and Yemen will take comfort in conspiracy theories.
Yesterday, hundreds of Yemenia employees demonstrated outside the French embassy in Sana’a. In a letter to the ambassador they said: "The French search team appears not to have any real intention to search (for bodies) and produces only – sadly – false information that enforces ambiguity and doubt."
Posted by Brian Whitaker, 9 July 2009