Bahia Bakari, 14, returned to France from the Comoros Islands on a plane carrying a government minister and other French officials. The Falcon-900 jet with medical facilities left the archipelago nation, a former French colony, and arrived at Le Bourget airport just north of Paris. Yemenia Flight 626 crashed Tuesday morning off Comoros amid heavy winds, and Bahia, described by her father as a fragile girl who could barely swim, spent over 13 hours in the water clinging to wreckage before she was rescued. She was found suffering from hypothermia, a fractured collarbone and bruises to her face, her elbow and her foot. The other 152 people on the plane, including her mother, are presumed dead. France's cooperation minister, Alain Joyandet, said the girl "was informed that her mother is missing. She is facing up to this event in a very brave way."
Bahia's father, Kassim, met her as she arrived, saying he was relieved and overjoyed to see his daughter even as he mourned his wife. "It was very powerful," he said of his reunion with Bahia. He said he asked her, "'How are you? Was the return trip OK?' ... We joked a little, the two of us."
Several other family members joined the airport reunion before an ambulance took the girl to the Armand-Trousseau Children's Hospital in eastern Paris.
"In the midst of the mourning, there is Bahia. It is a miracle, it is an absolutely extraordinary battle for survival," Joyandet said at a news conference. "It's an enormous message that she sends to the world ... almost nothing is impossible."
Also on Thursday, French investigators were set to present their initial findings into what caused Air France Flight 447 to drop out of the sky in the middle of the Atlantic a month ago, prompting one of history's most challenging plane crash investigations.