The Brazilian navy and air force said they have found nine bodies in the wide search area around where the Airbus A330-200 went down. The crew of a French vessel taking part in the search has found seven bodies, military officials told reporters Sunday evening.
Air France Flight 447 disappeared over the Atlantic early June 1. The jet was en route to Paris, France, from the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro with 228 passengers and crew aboard.
The bodies were found floating about 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) from the Brazilian coast. Items found in the same area Saturday were confirmed to have come from the jet, including pieces of the aircraft's wing section, luggage and a leather briefcase containing an airplane ticket with a reservation code for the doomed flight, Brazilian Spokesman told CNN
Air France flight sent out 24 automated error messages about four minutes before it crashed. The messages suggest the plane may have been flying too fast or too slow through severe thunderstorms it encountered before the crash, officials said.
The exact location of the crash has not been determined, since ocean currents probably caused the bodies and debris to drift in the days since the crash. And two key pieces of evidence -- the flight data and cockpit voice recorders -- remain missing, and could lie on the ocean floor.
The part of the ocean where the debris and bodies have been found ranges between 6,000 and 8,000 meters (about 19,700 to 26,250 feet) deep. The search area covers 124,300 square kilometers (77,220 square miles), an area nearly as big as the country of Romania.
Twelve Brazilian and two French aircraft were participating, along with five Brazilian ships and one French frigate. And in Washington, a U.S. defense official told CNN that the U.S. Navy will contribute two high-tech acoustic devices to listen for emergency beacons still operating in deep water.
The "towed pinger locators," which help search for emergency beacons on downed aircraft to a maximum depth of 20,000 feet, will be placed aboard two French tugs that are part of the search efforts, the official said.
Recovery of bodies and debris is significant not only for families, but also 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," she told CNN on Saturday.
She said investigators would be able to tell 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.
Investigators in Paris said Saturday that the
Schiavo said four minutes "was a very long time" for automated signals to be sent from the plane.
Investigators also reported that the airline had failed to replace a part as recommended by the manufacturer, Airbus.
Airbus had advised airlines to update equipment that monitors speed, known as Pitot tubes. The recommendation was a result of technological developments and improvements, an Airbus spokesman told CNN. The change was not mandatory, and the spokesman would not comment on Air France's failure to follow the advice. Source:CNN.com/world
CNN's Karl Penhaul, Richard Quest and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.