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A horror plane crash survivor was saved by "God's will" according to her dad as today marks 12 years since the jet she was flying in crashed into the ocean.
Bahia Bakari was just 12-years-old when Yemenia Flight 626 plummeted into the Indian Ocean on this day in 2009 – killing everyone onboard except for her.
The French teenager was dubbed "the miracle girl" by the world's press after revealing she stayed afloat by clinging onto a bit of plane wreckage for 14 hours, despite barely being able to swim and having no life jacket.
Aboard the Yemenia Airways flight from Sana'a, Yemen, to Moroni on the Comoros Islands, were 152 other people including Bahia's own mother, who all died.
Yet still in a state of shock she was convinced that there had been no plane crash.
Horrified at the news her dad was stunned to discover Bahia was somehow still alive.
Over the phone he asked his teenage daughter what happened and she said: "We saw the plane fall in the water. I found myself in the water.
"I was hearing people speak but I couldn't see anyone. I was in the dark. I couldn't see anything.
"Daddy, I couldn't swim very well. I grabbed on to something but I don't know what."
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Bahia was convinced there were initially other survivors after hearing the voices before believing they succumbed to their almost impossible odds.
Bahia's father Kassim Bakari told French news outlets at the time: "She is a very, very shy girl. I would never have thought she would have survived like this.
"I can't say that it's a miracle, I can say that it is God's will."
The plane was only seven minutes from landing at the airport in Comoros when it went off course before stalling and dropping out of the sky.
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A United Nations official at the airport said that the control tower was notified of the flight approaching before losing communication with it.
An investigation into the disaster later found the plane had gone into an aerodynamic stall, as a result of mistakes by the crew who failed to react to warning signs.
Bahia, now 24, spent the night alone at sea without a life jacket or confidence in her swimming.
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It was not until the following afternoon, around 14 hours after the crash, that the terrified and tired Bahia was spotted in rough seas approximately nine miles from the nearest Comoros coastline.
Too weak to reach for a life buoy thrown in her direction, a member of the search and rescue team got in the water to physically pull the teenager on board.
She was then wrapped in blankets and handed a drink of warm sugar water on the way to hospital.
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Being in a state of shock left Bahia citing an unusual version of events that led to her floating on debris in the Indian Ocean.
She told rescuers that she alone had fallen from the plane because she pressed her forehead too hard against its windows, BBC News reported.
The teenager, who had been travelling with her mum, was flown home to Paris on a private Falcon-900 government jet, with Alain Joyandet, the French co-operation secretary.
He said: "In the midst of the mourning, there is Bahia. It is a miracle, it is an absolutely extraordinary battle for survival… It's an enormous message that she sends to the world… almost nothing is impossible."
After landing back in France, Bahia met the rest of her family as she spent the next three weeks in hospital for a fractured pelvis and collarbone, burns to her knees and some facial injuries.
With the help of a French ghostwriter, Bahia documented the horrific experience in a book the following year called "Moi Bahia, la miraculée" ("I'm Bahia, the miracle girl").
She reportedly turned down an offer from legendary director Steven Spielberg to make her amazing story into a Hollywood movie.
- Plane Crash
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