July 4, 2009 / 5:27 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Rescuers find debris of Yemenia aircraft-ministry

(Adds details of protest in France in paras 7-10)

SANAA, July 4 (Reuters) - Search crews have located a large piece of debris from a Yemeni jet that crashed into the Indian Ocean off the Comoros islands last week and are working to retrieve it, the Yemeni transport ministry said on Saturday.

A 14-year-old girl appears to be the sole survivor of the crash. International rescuers have been unable to find any of the remaining 152 passengers and crew since the Yemenia Airbus A310-300 crashed in strong winds in the early hours of Tuesday.

“The American team was able to locate a large piece of the the aircraft’s parts and is currently retrieving it,” the ministry said in a statement.

The plane plunged into the sea as it came in to land at Moroni, the capital of the formerly French-ruled Comoros archipelago, which comprises three islands off mainland east Africa and northwest of Madagascar.

The aircraft had taken off from the Yemeni capital Sanaa, but many of the passengers had come from France aboard an Airbus A330 which flew the Paris-Marseille-Yemen leg of the flight. Yemenia has suspended flights from Paris, the Paris airports operator said on Friday. [ID:nL3283986]

At least 10,000 people of Comoran origin marched through the streets of the southern French city of Marseille on Saturday to mourn those who perished and to vent anger at the airline.

Comorans have long complained about the standard of flights from France to the Comoros.

“This company treats people badly,” said Iliasse Issilame, who took to the streets.

Groups of protesters had blockaded Yemenia flight desks in Marseille and Paris in the aftermath of the accident, preventing some flights from taking off. (Additional reporting by Charlotte Penchenier in Marseille) (Reporting by Mohammed Sudam; Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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