French forensics begin identifying Air France flight 447 victims

17th Jun 2011
French forensics begin identifying Air France flight 447 victims

A team of French forensic experts are beginning the task of identifying the decomposed remains of 104 victims of Air France flight 447, which crashed off the coast of Brazil two years ago.

The bodies were raised last month from the wreckage, which was lying on the seabed almost three miles under the Atlantic. Many of the bodies were still strapped to their seats.

The wreckage of the fuselage arrived on a French salvage vessel at the Ile de Sein, southwestern France, and were transferred to a medical centre in Toulouse.

The passengers had been flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on 1 June 2009 when the pilots lost control of the plane in a tropical storm and it plunged into the ocean killing all 228 people on board.

Some 51 bodies were recovered from the surface during the initial search efforts in the weeks following the crash. All but one of victims has been identified.


A further 104 have been brought to the surface since the discovery of the wreckage, but the remaining 73 could not be salvaged.

The bodies were well preserved in cold deep-sea conditions but rapidly disintegrated in contact with air.

Forensic experts will use DNA tests, bone and dental records, as well as past surgery, clothes or jewellery to try and identify the victims. The first results will take a week to be made public.

Once identities are confirmed, the remains will be handed over to families for burial.

The recovery of the black box showed passengers the plane plunged for three and a half minutes towards the ocean after it stalled while the captain was resting.

The speed sensors, known as pitot tubes, are thought to have frozen.


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