Wreckage found in search area for missing Air France plane (Third Lead)June 2nd, 2009 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS
Sao Paulo/Paris, June 2 (DPA) Wreckage has been found in the Atlantic Ocean possibly from the Air France plane that disappeared Monday with 228 people on board, a spokesman for the Brazilian air force said Tuesday.
A seat and traces of oil and kerosene were found about 650 km northeast of the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, air force spokesman Jorge Amaral said in Brasilia.
The debris must now be recovered to determine if it comes from the Airbus A330-200 that vanished early Monday after encountering turbulent weather on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
The find was made on the basis of a statement by a pilot for the Brazilian TAM airlines who said he had spotted “orange-coloured spots” in the Atlantic that might have been burning debris.
The sighting took place at about the same time that the plane vanished, at approximately 0215 GMT Monday.
Brazil and France had sent additional aircraft to the area, as other countries, notably the US and Spain, also contributed to the search.
In an interview with French i-tele television, US President Barack Obama said, “The United States will provide all the help necessary” to find the missing aircraft.
“Obviously, we’re heartbroken,” Obama said.
France Info radio reported that Washington had deployed at least one aircraft to aid in the search.
In addition, the Brazilian air force sent planes equipped with thermal infrared imaging cameras able to detect the presence of human bodies.
Speculation continued Tuesday about the possible cause of the plane’s disappearance.
French Defence Minister Herve Morin said there was no indication that the plane had fallen victim to a terrorist bomb.
“We do not have the right to exclude a terrorist act,” Morin told Europe 1 radio. “But we have no element today that would allow us to conclude… that it was the cause of the accident.”
The plane’s abrupt disappearance as well as the absence of distress signals led some experts to suggest that the plane could have exploded in mid-air. Initial reports had cited a lightning strike as a possible cause of the disaster.
French relatives of the passengers and crew that had been aboard the plane may travel to the search zone if they wish, French Transport and Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said Tuesday.
About 40 family members still waiting for news of the missing plane are being cared for by a unit of psychologists at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, where the plane had been scheduled to land Monday.
The head of that unit, Thierry Baubet, told i-tele television that a trip to the search zone “could be a positive step for them”.
According to Air France, 61 of the passengers were French nationals, 58 were Brazilians and 26 were German citizens. There were also nine Chinese nationals, nine Italians and five Britons on board.
In addition, the crew consisted of 11 French nationals and one Brazilian, according to an update by Air France.
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Tags: AF447, air france, airbus a330 200, barack obama, brazilian air force, brazilian island, coloured spots, defence minister, distress signals, early monday, europe 1, fernando de noronha, france info radio, french defence, herve morin, human bodies, minister herve, rio de janeiro, search area, terrorist bomb, thermal infrared imaging