It is now believed that an Air France passenger plane that disappeared over the Atlantic overnight on its way from Rio to Paris crashed into the ocean.
The Airbus A-330 which was carrying 228 people went missing after hitting heavy turbulence. By then, it was about four hours into its flight and would have been far over the ocean. Relatives waiting for the plane which was due to land at Charles de Gaulle airport just after 11 am were first told it was delayed before Air France informed them it had gone missing. More than a third of the passengers were French and at least 60 were Brazilian. Air France has offered its condolences to the families of those on board in a sign it does not expect to find any survivors. At a news conference earlier, the airline company’s chief Pierre-Henri Gourgeon had this information: “At 3.30 Paris time, we registered final contact with air control in Brazil. A little later, around 4 in the morning, the plane entered strong turbulence and stormy weather. Fifteen minutes later, several automatic maintenance messages were sent by the aircraft indicating multiple technical failure onboard.” The Airbus’ last maintenance check was conducted less than two months ago. Initial speculation that it could have been hijacked by terrorists has been dismissed by senior French minister Jean-Louis Borloo. Although the chances of finding any survivors are very slim, military planes have been sent to search the area. In the unlikely event that any bodies are found, French police have started collecting DNA from the crew and passengers’ relatives for ID checks.