More bodies found in Air France plane search

Three further bodies recovered from Atlantic, bringing total to five, and pilots spot other bodies from the air

Three more bodies believed to have come from an Air France jet that disappeared last week were found today in the Atlantic.

Pilots scouring the area spotted an undetermined additional number of bodies from the air, and ships were being sent to recover them, said Giucemar Tabosa Cardoso, a Brazilian navy captain.

The first two bodies of people believed to have been among the 228 on board the plane were hauled from the water yesterday.

Five Britons, 58 Brazilians and 61 French citizens were among those on board the Airbus when it disappeared off radar screens in the early hours of Monday morning as it travelled between Rio de Janeiro and Paris.

Jorge Amaral, a colonel from the Brazilian air force, said the first bodies, both of men, were spotted about 400 miles from the Brazilian archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.

"We can confirm that debris and bodies from the Air France plane were recovered from the water," he told reporters at the air force base in Recife.

In the same area the search team found a leather case containing a laptop computer and a boarding pass, and a backpack containing a vaccination certificate. Air France confirmed that the name on the boarding pass corresponded to that of one person thought to have been on the aircraft when it crashed.

Brazil announced yesterday that it would step up the search, sending a further two navy vessels to the region to help the 12 Brazilian air force planes and two French planes already involved. France was said to be sending a nuclear-powered submarine to try to locate the plane's two flight recorders, which could be between 3,000ft and 13,000ft below the surface.

French investigators say flight 447 sent 24 error messages before disappearing. The French accident investigation agency, BEA, said airspeed instruments on the plane had not been replaced as Airbus recommended. The head of the agency cautioned, however, that it was too early to draw conclusions about what role that may have played in the crash.

Aviation experts say that the truth about what happened may never be known. Ronaldo Jenkins, technical director of Brazil's airline union and an expert in aviation accidents, said: "It is possible that they will find absolutely nothing, that this plane will never be located."


Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro, Peter Walker and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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