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France backpedals on Rio-Paris crash recovery efforts

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-05-11

In a letter to the French families of the victims of the doomed Rio-Paris crash, judges in Paris have said not all bodies will be recovered, contradicting previous statements by French and Brazilian authorities.

French teams working to recover the remains of the victims of the ill-fated Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic in 2009 will only retrieve bodies that are not badly decomposed, according to a letter to families of the victims signed by the Paris judges overseeing the case.

The letter, a copy of which FRANCE 24 obtained on Friday, recognised that the decision to only recover certain remains was “contrary to certain public announcements relayed by the media” that all of the bodies would be brought to the surface and handed over to families.

On Friday, Brazilian defense minister Nelson Jobim told journalists in Rio de Janeiro that all of the remains that were found would be recovered. "We must then identify them and conduct DNA tests,” Jobim said.

French police later said that rescue teams would be reinforced, "to lift all the bodies and personal effects."

“Only if conditions allow”

Addressing family members of the victims, judges Sylvia Zimmermann and Yann Daurelle said: “You should know that the remains of the victims are understandably in a state of decomposition given the particularly violent crash, the time elapsed and the environment.

“Consequently, we will proceed only with the recovery of the bodies that can be returned to their families in a decent state, and only if conditions allow for their identification,” the judges’ letter continued.

Brazilian authorities have come under intense pressure from the group representing the Brazilian families of the AF 447 victims, which has demanded that all bodies be retrieved.

The French families did not make any immediate statements following the release of the judges’ letter.

On Friday, French police announced the recovery of a second body from the cockpit of the Paris-bound Airbus A330 that crashed into the open Atlantic on June 1, 2009 after taking off from Rio de Janeiro. The recovery efforts were being undertaken at 3,900 meters underwater.

The two flight recorders (black boxes) of the flight were recovered Sunday and Monday, a decisive step to determine the causes of the crash that killed all 228 people, including 12 crew members.

 

Photo credit: BEA (Bureau of Investigation and Analysis)

 

Date created : 2011-05-10

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