Air France loved ones face identification anguish

June 10th, 2009

Photo: Brazilian Navy, Agencia Brasil

Brazilian Federal Police working with Interpol agents are expected to use pictures taken from airport closed circuit television to help identify bodies of passengers of Air France flight AF447 recovered from the Atlantic Ocean.

Investigators will also try to use dental records and DNA tests to confirm identities, as a French Navy submarine arrives in the area where the plane is believed to have gone down to join the search.

By 19:47 local time (22:47 GMT) on Tuesday, the Brazilian Navy had pulled 41 bodies from the sea, in addition to a large section of the Airbus 330-200’s tail plane from waters 1000 kilometres (600 miles) north-east of Brazil’s Fernando da Noronha islands.

Because passengers of more than 30 nationalities were on the plane, international police force Interpol will lead the identification process.

The plane bound for Paris left Rio de Janeiro’s Antonio Carlos Jobim airport with 228 passengers and crew on board at around 19:00 local time (23:00 GMT) on May 31, but then some three and half hours later lost radio contact.

Though officials say it’s much too early to establish the cause, speculation has centred on whether faulty speed sensors caused the plane to go down in stormy conditions.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva earlier insisted Brazil will do everything it can to find the passengers’ remains.

“At this painful moment finding the bodies will not resolve the problem, but it will bring immense comfort to the families,” he said.

But the families’ legal plight may be complicated by Brazilian laws that assume there is no death without a body, meaning they may have to get a court judge to declare the death of their loved ones.

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