Three more Air France AF447 bodies recovered

June 8th, 2009 - 2:23 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

Air France AF447 Brazilian rescue teams have pulled the bodies of three more Air France AF447 passengers from the Atlantic Ocean and more are expected to be recovered before nightfall.

The bodies of two males were found Saturday, however, Brazilian air force and navy officials said it was not possible to identify the sex of the latest three bodies.

Brazilian authorities continue to refuse to comment on the condition of the bodies – leading many to speculate they may have been eaten by sharks – saying it would be too emotionally painful for relatives.

The bodies, along with hundreds of other items, were found floating in water that was between 6,000 and 8,000 meters (four to five miles) deep.

The items recovered include parts of the plane’s wing section and at least two seats from the plane and many more items of luggage, officials said.

The area where the bodies and crash debris are being found is about 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) from the Brazilian coast.

Brazilian authorities said the investigation into the cause of the crash would be handled by Air France and by French authorities. Once everything is brought to the mainland, the French investigators will examine the items.

The Brazilian officials said their first priority is to recover as many bodies as possible, in order to return them to the victims’ families. They also want to recover luggage items and aircraft pieces to aid in the crash probe.

Also found Saturday were a backpack and a leather briefcase containing an airplane ticket with a reservation code, which Air France verified belonged to a passenger on the jet, said another air force spokesman, Jorge Amaral.

The Brazilian navy and air force officials said the backpack contained a laptop, and an oxygen mask also was discovered.

The search area covers 200,000 square kilometers (77,220 square miles) – an area nearly as big as the country of Romania.

Recovery of bodies and debris is significant not only for families, but for crash investigators, said Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Even if they don’t find anything else they can get some very important clues from the pieces that they do find and from the human remains,” Schiavo told CNN on Saturday.

She said investigators would be able to discern if there was an explosion from possible residue on the bodies or other items. Or, if water is found in the lungs of victims, investigators would know the plane went down intact, she said.

Schiavo, the former inspector general, said the four minutes of automated signals sent from the plane “was a very long time.”

Investigators also reported that the airline had failed to replace a part, as recommended by the manufacturer, Airbus.

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