A Yemenia Air Airbus A310 is pictured in flight. ((Reuters))

A Yemenia Air plane with at least 150 people on board has crashed in the Indian Ocean, near the Comoros archipelago, a Yemen airport official said Tuesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to media, said the plane was going from the Yemeni capital of San'a to Moroni on the main island of Grand Comore.

The official said Tuesday that most of the passengers on the Airbus A310 were believed to be Comoros residents returning from Paris.

The Comoros is an archipelago of three main islands situated about 2,900 kilometres south of Yemen, between Africa's southeastern coast and Madagascar.

The Associated Press said it was not known how many passengers were on board the Yemenia Air plane, whether there were survivors, or the reason for the crash.


The Comoros is an archipelago of three main islands about 2,900 kilometre south of Yemen, between Africa's southeastern coast and Madagascar. ((Google maps))

But Reuters, citing an airport official, said there were 153 people on board the plane, including 11 crewmembers. Earlier, Comoros Vice-President Idi Nadhoim told Reuters from the airport at the main island's capital, Moroni, "there were 150 passengers on board," and that officials still don't know the location of the crash. 

Nadhoim said the accident happened in the early hours of Tuesday, but could not provide further details.

According to preliminary information from Paris aviation officials, a Yemenia Air Airbus A330 flew on Monday from Paris to San'a, with 147 passengers and 11 crew on board.

After landing in the Yemeni capital, the passengers disembarked and those destined for Comoros switched planes. Sixty-seven of the original passengers were flying on to Moroni, the officials said.

It was unclear how many more passengers boarded the Airbus A310 in San'a and if the crew was changed.

The plane from Paris also stopped in the French city of Marseille, which has a large Comoros community. There, it picked up additional crew, but it's not known if more passengers embarked in Marseille.

French military planes took off from the Indian Ocean islands of Mayotte and Reunion to search for the Yemenia plane, Reuters said. Civilian and military boats have also been dispatched, but the rough seas will make their search difficult.

The Airbus was the second one to crash into the sea this month. An Air France Airbus A330-200 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 228 people on June 1.