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Bodies found in crash site now 50
Search continues despite worsening weather and no sign of Air France jet's "black box".
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2009 15:44 GMT
The first wreckage of the jet is being investigated for clues to the cause of the crash [AFP]

A French navy ship has found six more bodies from the Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean nearly two weeks ago, according to a Brazilian military spokesman.

The find on Friday brings to 50 the number of bodies recovered from the airliner, which crashed between May 31 and June 1 with 228 people on board.

On the coast, investigators examined corpses and received the first wreckage including two aircraft seats, oxygen masks, water bottles and several structural pieces.

The most important piece recovered so far is the virtually intact vertical stabiliser, which could give BEA, the French investigative agency, solid clues about what caused the crash.

"The debris will be at the disposition of the BEA and they will decide what to do with it,'' General Ramon Cardoso, of the Brazilian air force, said.

He said French ships equipped with sonar were looking for underwater
wreckage over an area stretching 70km from the last known position of the airliner.

Best hope

The Air France Flight 44's "black box" of data recorders - the best hope of establishing how and why it went down en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris - still has not been found.

The clues that have been found so far lead investigators to believe there were systemic failures on board the Airbus A330-200.

In depth


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Agony for Brazil jet crash families 
 
Timeline: Air France accidents 
 
Profile: Airbus A330-200 

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Route map of Air France 447
 Air France jet goes missing over Atlantic

A burst of 24 automatic messages sent during its final minutes of flight show the autopilot was not on.

But it was not clear if it was switched off by the pilots or
stopped working due to conflicting airspeed readings, perhaps caused by iced-over speed sensors.

As search teams continue to operate in worsening weather, Brazil's military said the task is becoming increasingly difficult and a tentative date of June 25 has been set for stopping recovery efforts.

Beginning on Monday, officials will meet every two days to evaluate when to stop the search, depending on whether search teams are still finding bodies or debris.

William Waldock, a teacher of air crash investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, USA, said the ability for a body to float in water and remain visible to searchers depends highly on water temperatures and sea life in the area.

Warm water speeds up the process of a body surfacing, floating and then sinking again, he said.

According to the Brazilian military, the water temperature in the areas they are looking is averaging about 82 degrees (28 degrees Celsius).

Those warm waters also mean there is a lot of marine life in the area and "they'll break a body down faster", Waldock said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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