Air France 447 - More Bodies Recovered Near Site of Plane Crash

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Published: June 7, 2009

Filed at 11:11 a.m. ET

Brazilian Air Force/Associated Press

A Brazilian Navy helicopter recovered debris in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday that is believed to be from Air France Flight 447.

RECIFE, Brazil (AP) -- Three more bodies were found Sunday in the ocean near the spot where an Air France jet is believed to have crashed a week ago, bringing the total number of bodies plucked from the water to five, Brazil's military said.

Authorities said pilots searching the mid-Atlantic also spotted an undetermined number of additional bodies from the air and are sending ships to recover them, Navy Capt. Giucemar Tabosa Cardoso said.

Flight 447 disappeared in turbulent weather May 31 during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people aboard -- all now presumed dead.

The investigation is increasingly focused on whether external instruments may have iced over, confusing speed sensors and leading computers to set the plane's speed too fast or slow -- a potentially deadly mistake.

The French agency investigating the disaster said airspeed instruments on the plane had not been replaced as the maker had recommended, but cautioned that it was too early to draw conclusions about what role that may have played in the crash.

The agency, BEA, said the plane received inconsistent airspeed readings from different instruments as it struggled in a massive thunderstorm.

In Brazil, Air Force Col. Henry Munhoz said he could not immediately provide information on how many more bodies were spotted from the air. Cardoso said late Sunday morning that ships should be able to recover some of them within hours despite rainy weather and poor visibility.

None of the bodies recovered Sunday had documents with them to indicate their identities, and authorities did not specify their gender. The first two bodies, found Saturday, were men.

The three bodies were found about 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the site where the jet sent out a burst of messages indicating it was experiencing a series of electric failures and losing cabin pressure. All the bodies that have been recovered were found in the same general area.

They declined comment on the condition of the recovered bodies, saying the release of that information would be too emotionally painful for relatives.

Authorities also announced that searchers spotted two airplane seats and other debris with Air France's logo, and they have recovered jet wing fragments and other plane debris. Munhoz said there is ''no more doubt'' that the wreckage is from Flight 447.

Hundreds of personal items belonging to the passengers have been recovered, but Munhoz said authorities would not immediately identify them because relatives of the victims panicked after authorities on Saturday announced the discovery of a laptop computer and a briefcase with a plane ticket inside it.

''We're don't want to cause them more suffering,'' Munhoz said.

The bodies and plane wreckage will be transported Monday to the Brazilian islands of Fernando de Noronha, where the military has set up a staging post for the search operation. From there, remains and debris will be taken to the northeastern coastal city Recife for identification.

Air France Flight 447 emitted its last signals roughly 400 miles (640 kilometers) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands.

The Pentagon has said there are no signs of terrorism. Brazil's defense minister said the possibility was never considered. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner agreed that there is no evidence supporting a ''terrorism theory,'' but said that ''we cannot discard that for now.''


Marco Sibaja reported from Recife and Alan Clendenning reported from Sao Paulo.

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