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First bodies arrive for identification in Recife

Video by Katherine SPENCER , Achren ALLAHVERDIAN

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-06-12

More than a week after the crash of Air France flight 447, a military plane carrying several bodies found in the Atlantic Ocean has landed in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife, where the bodies are to be formally identified.

More than a week after Air France flight 447 crashed, a military plane carrying several bodies found in the Atlantic Ocean landed in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife, where formal identification procedures are to take place.


A flotilla of five Brazilian navy ships and a French frigate have already recovered 41 bodies, which are to be identified on the Brazilian mainland using dental records and DNA tests.
   
That search and recovery part of the operation headed by Brazil was to continue to at least June 19, air force spokesman Brigadier Ramon Cardoso told reporters in Recife.
   
He explained that currents in the area could make the possibility of recovering bodies more difficult after that date.


Brazil has said it is determined to bring back to shore as many bodies and pieces of debris as possible from the crash zone.


Meanwhile, search teams were to step up their search on Thursday for the black boxes from an Air France jet that crashed in the Atlantic earlier this month with 228 people on board.
   
A tugboat contracted by France was to join operations in the area after it was fitted with specialized underwater listening gear on loan from the US military.
   
A French nuclear military submarine was already in the zone, 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) off Brazil's coast, since Wednesday, hunting for the recording devices.
   
If it finds a signal, a deep-sea research mini-sub that was to arrive Thursday on board a French scientific ship would be deployed to recover the boxes, which hold data that could be key to discovering why the jet did not complete its journey.
   
The Air France plane came down June 1 as it was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
   
The cause of the disaster was not known, but speculation is focusing on the Airbus A330's airspeed sensors, which may have malfunctioned.
   
Airbus has written to clients to assure them its A330 planes were safe, including those with older versions of the sensors, known as "pitot probes", according to a spokeswoman in France.
   
Airbus and Air France say older pitot probes have been problematic on other Airbus A330s and A340s, and the airline has stepped up a program to install newer devices after pilots' unions threatened to refuse to fly.
   
The European air safety agency said Tuesday that Airbus models were "safe to operate," but added that a bulletin had gone out to remind airlines of what to do "in the event of loss of, or unreliable, speed indication."
   
There has been speculation that the A330's speed probes could have iced up during a storm at high altitude and supplied false airspeed data to the cockpit.
   
This, in turn, could have caused the pilots to fly too slow and stall, or too fast and rip the airframe apart, aviation experts say.
   
The crash is the worst aviation accident since 2001, and unprecedented in Air France's 75-year history.

Date created : 2009-06-11

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