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.