A 14 year old Marseille girl plucked from the water appears to be the only survivor of yesterday’s air crash eight miles off the Comoros islands in the Indian Ocean. Rescuers spotted her swimming in rough waters among bodies and wreckage. They threw her a life buoy, but she could not grab it, then a man leapt into the water to save her. Altogether, there were about 153 people on board.
In the five deadliest aviation disasters over the world’s oceans, there were no survivors. The worst three were no accidents either. The worst of all involved the Air India 747 brought down by a terrorist bomb over the Atlantic in 1985, killing all 329 people on board.
Three years later, an American warship shot down an Iran Air Airbus over the Straits of Hormuz killing all 290 passengers and crew. The death toll was 269 – again everyone on board – when Soviet jets shot down Korean Air Lines flight 007 just west of Sakhalin island in 1983.
The worst ever accident involving a commercial airliner over the ocean came on July 17, 1996 when a TWA flight to Rome blew up in mid-air about 12 minutes after taking off from New York’s JFK airport. All 230 people on board were killed. At first, there was speculation that there might have been a bomb on the jumbo, but investigators concluded the most likely cause of the explosion was faulty wiring.