Comorans spent the country’s independence day, June 6, in mourning for the 152 people who died in a Yemenia airliner crash off the coast last week. There was only one survivor of the crash, a 12-year-old girl.
The July 6 independence day was marked by prayers rather than parties, according to AFP. Many of those who perished in the Airbus airliner crash were Comorans going home to visit family and friends. A foreign affairs official, Ismail Shafi, told the crowd:
Instead of being a day of happy reunion, it has come to be a day in the national mourning (period).
Comoran President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi has declared a month of national mourning. He honoured Libounah Maturaffi, the navy officer who rescued the only survivor, Bahia Bakari. He said:
You saved someone else's life at the risk of losing yours.
The Comores Islands is a small island group off the south-east African coast in the Mozambique Channel. The islands, with the exception of Mayotte, which is still part of France, became independent in 1975.