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15 bodies found in Air France plane crash

RECIFE, Brazil — Search ships methodically worked through a "sea of debris" from a doomed Air France jet Sunday, recovering 15 more bodies near the spot where the Airbus A330 is believed to have gone down a week earlier.

Two bodies were recovered Saturday, and Brazilian and French ships picked up 15 Sunday afternoon after pilots participating in a grid search reported sightings. The bodies have been found in an area about 45 miles from where the jet sent out messages signaling electrical failures and loss of cabin pressure.

Brazil's military was not releasing detailed information about bodies or debris that have not been taken aboard ships, after sea trash was mistaken last week for a cargo pallet from the plane, prompting criticism.

Flight 447 disappeared and likely broke up in midair in turbulent weather May 31 during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people aboard — all now presumed dead.

The investigation is increasingly focused on whether external instruments on the Airbus A330 may have iced over, confusing speed sensors and leading computers to set the plane's speed too fast or slow — a potentially deadly mistake.

France is leading the investigation into the crash, and will try to recover the plane's black box data and voice recorders. Brazilian officials are focusing solely on the recovery of victims and plane wreckage. The U.S. Navy is sending two high-tech devices to French ships to help locate the black boxes, a senior U.S. defense official said Saturday.

Officials declined to comment on the condition of the bodies, saying that information would be too painful for relatives.

Authorities also announced that searchers spotted two airplane seats, debris with Air France's logo, and recovered dozens of structural components.

15 bodies found in Air France plane crash 06/07/09 [Last modified: Sunday, June 7, 2009 9:46pm]
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